What you need to know

In the last two decades, Liz Sexton has created one of Britain's most established and well-respected party planning companies.

With a background in chartered accountancy and project management, Liz applies her business acumen to the companies she runs and now provides party planning services to a wide range of customers worldwide. In many cases these are busy professionals with a similar background to hers.

As well as a highly competent organiser, Liz also has an astounding knowledge of the bad, the merely good and the excellent within the world of events. Such knowledge allows her to advise, guide and steer her customers through the emotional and costly maze that constitutes a modern party. Combined with her financial training, this gives Liz the formidable skills to help her customers get the most from every "party pound" they spend.


Q. Why is the company called Alternative Occasions?

A. Our aim has always been to help people do things differently, but ideally in such a way that everyone remembers their event as something very special for a long time to come. Frequently we have clients say that they do not want their event to be like so many they have attended previously, which were formulaic and consequently instantly forgettable. So, assuming we do our job well, and help them identify the perfect ingredients, everyone will remember the event for all the right reasons!

Q. How do you charge?

A. We offer a flexible set of services which can be dipped into to assist with a discrete aspect of an event or used from the beginning to organise an event in its entirety. In both cases our charges are based on the amount of time we are working for you rather than as a percentage of the overall event cost (like many others do!).

Q. Who uses the services of a party planner?

A. Our services are used by a wide range of people, although most are busy professionals or have jobs that are demanding on their time and therefore they cannot do justice to their party preparations. Others come to us just to benefit from our ideas, creativity and knowledge of venues and suppliers.

Regardless of who comes to us, we always ensure they never feel out of control or detached from the planning, as this is where the enjoyment comes from, whether it's picking a theme or style, choosing table settings or generally creating the character of the event. Our role is like that of a conductor of an orchestra, ensuring that the audience gains the maximum enjoyment from the ensemble of chosen suppliers.

Q. How do Alternative Occasions' party planning services differ from those offered by venues?

A. Although most commercial venues offer an event planning service, their event staff are working for the venue first and the client second. Our role is to ensure that clients receive everything they have paid for and that all the components of the event, not just those supplied by the venue, come together as planned. The really good venues recognise the importance of a party planner and work closely with us to ensure that everyone has the best possible time - which has to be the main goal for everyone!

We assist the client from an early stage, giving advice, guidance and examples to help them identify the best components from all of the potential suppliers involved. On the day of the event itself, we act as their "eyes and ears" to ensure that everything goes according to plan. Our involvement ensures continuity from beginning to end, in effect providing quality assurance to maintain the detail, and as an independent third party we can also iron out any “wrinkles” should they arise.

Q. How do Alternative Occasions' party planning services differ from those offered by other event management companies?

A. In short, experience and professionalism. Alternative Occasions has been organising events since 1995 for clients from all walks of life. Furthermore, most clients become repeat customers and ask us to organise other events for them including birthday and anniversary parties, product launches and corporate events, as well as recommending us to their family and friends. Over 80% of our new business is now gained from personal recommendation.