We believe that the Southwest is the PERFECT part of the world to get married. And thousands of brides and grooms agree.
Having spent nearly a decade showcasing weddings in the region, we have come to know incredible businesses and their owners. Owners who are genuine in their desire to see Brides and Grooms, and their families and friends, have a truly magical wedding experience.
One such person is Charmaine Treasure from Ferguson Valley Events. Now, Charmaine only started her business in 2013 but reading her story makes you realise just passionate she is about making every wedding perfect for her clients. Read her Q&A to get a feeling of what a wonderful person Charmaine is to work with.
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Name of your business and number of staff that work for you?
Ferguson Valley Events, 2-5 depending on the time of the year
Date you started the business?
I launched my business at Coast To Country’s, Southwest Wedding Fair at the end of August in 2013.
What was the core of your business when you started?
I started off with 50 white folding gladiator chairs, a three-piece ceremony arbour, and a signing table. I wanted to do ceremony set ups for people on the beach or in parks – I saw that there weren't many businesses who would hire-out the furniture for a ceremony as well as set it up and make it look awesome.
When I first started, I had a two-door Holden Astra and I could fit
* 26 chairs,
* the signing table and
* arbour and
into it by folding the seats down and having stuff sticking out the windows – I caused much amusement to other drivers.
I was still working two part-time jobs at this time and everything was stored in our carport.
What is the core of your business now? How much have you changed?
FVE has just exploded over the last three years.
We now have hundreds of different types of chairs, tables, lounge and bar furniture, lighting, linen, decorations and so much more to offer our clients for any type and size of wedding.
I've got a cute little truck, a massive warehouse, as well as dedicated assistants to help deliver and set up our furniture, and it is now a more than a full-time job (my social life is ... umm ... quiet to say the least – but I don't mind, because I love my job!).
Where do you service in the Region?
About half of our weddings are in the Bunbury/Ferguson Valley area, and the rest in the Margaret River Wine Region (Busselton/Dunsborough/Margaret River).
I love working closer to home, in the Bunbury/Ferguson Valley area, as generally the venues are very friendly, more flexible and easy to deal with, and often will allow you in to set up the wedding in the days leading up to the wedding.
We also do a lot of private property weddings for farmers as well as in people's backyards, and these are my favourite weddings to do! I love bringing a space to life and transforming it into something beautiful and having the family there to see that what is taking place It really is quite special. My three brothers all had backyard weddings so it really resonates with me when people choose to get married at home.
And it can be made to look beautiful, with the right help!
When looking at the wedding industry as a whole, in locally/nationally/globally, where do you think the Southwest sits?
I think there are some great businesses based down here in the southwest who give 100% to their customers – but there are also some who don't try as hard. It really upsets me when clients say that businesses just don't get back to them or just don't have that professionalism or a ‘customer service’ background.
However I don't think this problem is a specific one to southwest businesses, it's probably more of a laid-back Aussie thing. I think we as an industry should always be striving to be better and more competitive in the market.
What is your all-time favourite month for weddings, year in and year out?
April/May – it's cooler, there are no flies or mossies, no dust as it's likely to have rained at least once since summer, but the stats show that it doesn't rain as much in Autumn as it does in Spring.
It is perfection!
Is there a service, product or natural resource that you think is genuinely unique and actually cool about our Southwest, and that makes Southwest weddings the best?
Just the natural beauty of the area – trees and ocean, farmland, clean air, and the friendly people!
What do you love about the wedding scene in the Southwest?
It's a fairly close knit scene so you make friends with the other suppliers easily - it is nice to be able to talk to people in the same situation as you.
Who do you admire or aspire to emulate, that is a leader in your field of weddings?
There's no-one really in the wedding industry that I aspire to be like, as I like to get outside the industry a bit for new ideas.
Although . . . . I like to follow and read about entrepreneurs like Ariana Huffington, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson to get a different perspective, and I have two good friends in Perth with small businesses (gourmet food, and flowers) who I love to catch up with and “talk business” with, and they definitely inspire me.
My brother, uncles and grandad are all small business owners in the earthmoving industry and their approach and success also inspires me.
In your experience in this whole industry, what do you think is the most underrated element of a wedding celebration?
The general comfort and experience of the guest.
I know that the wedding is the “bride and grooms day”, but I think a lot of the time the comfort and experience of the guest is sidelined in order to get a particular look or photo or style.
From all my discussions, guests want good drinks, good food, a comfy seat, access to toilets, lighting, and of course some bangin' tunes – and that's a pretty good party! Having that expensive floral installation instead of spending a bit more to get a reputable caterer rather than your mum's friend's friend, isn't at the end of the day going to make your night that much more enjoyable. Same goes for all the other “basics” for a wedding day – I would like to see people allocate their budgets to getting quality essentials, and then if you've got some money left over then that's great for you!
If you got married in the next 12 months, what would be your number one priority/expense?
Delicious and plentiful food, and a live band.
Is there ‘something’ that you see in some couples, that makes you think that they’ll be a couple to ‘make it’?
Respect for each other and each other's opinions. I usually pick up on this at client meetings or just in the tone of emails. They might not agree on everything but that's ok – they can still respect the opinion of their partner.
What is your all-time favourite location for a wedding in the whole Southwest?
Oh jeez this is a bit tricky!!
For a ceremony, maybe Stirling Cottage Gardens in Harvey? Truly stunning gardens. For a reception, there are so many different venues with great individual features, and I do really like private property and farm weddings best of all, but if I had to pick a venue then maybe Evedon Park, Ferguson Farmstay or Edith Valley.
What does marriage mean to you?
I'm not married – but I think it would be quite liberating to be married to the right person, who you trust unconditionally: to love you no matter what. So then you, as an individual, are free to go off and kick arse elsewhere knowing that you have that support and guidance behind you always.
What is the best piece of marriage advice you have ever heard or been given personally?
I haven't been on the receiving end of much marriage advice, as I'm not married, but I think that having outside interests to bring back into the relationship is really important. My boyfriend and I are quite independent, and really we don't have many common interests, but we respect and are interested in what each other is doing and it makes for some great end-of-day conversations.
Five things that you carry with you on every job, big or small?
1. Cable ties! Everyone jokes I should have shares in whatever company makes them. I use hundreds!
4. small step ladder, and
5. cloth tape.
What’s one trick/secret (you would be prepared to share) that people in your industry/field covet, that everyone should actually know?
I don't have any tricks really – but I like to make lists! Write down everything and then you can refer back to it later.
In your opinion, as couples plan their wedding day, they should consider which month or season to have their wedding? And why?
Consider that it's still bloody hot in February and March. There are likely to be flies and it is usually windy and dusty. So that needs to be taken into account especially when planning an outdoor reception (you have to set up on the day, can't be done the day before).
Also – it can rain at any time of the year – so having a back-up is imperative.