This is a very difficult time for the events industry, however, I am looking forward to discovering my new place in the industry and we have all become more astute in utilising the online world.

Marina Tapakoudes

Owner / Event Manager

Location: London

Utopia Parties is a London based luxury children’s events company, offering expert party planners, spectacular costumes, bespoke cakes, and the finest team of bakers, stylists, entertainers, prop designers, and more.

Following training at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in 2013, Marina has been working professionally in the industry both as a performer and as a creator.

Marina has gained her event expertise whilst working on luxury events in London with various companies and taking on extremely demanding projects and stepping into the role of event manager and event stylist. This includes the full organisation of a high profile LA event within the film industry with ‘Peracals Productions Ltd’ and designing a high profile event in London’s ‘The Scotch of St James’ with ‘Alexson Entertainment’.

In 2014 she began working for several Children’s Entertainment companies managing the events and delivering performances in children’s shows at established theme parks. She has received countless happy clients and glowing reviews.

She then decided to take all this experience, from her passion for design and detail to her passion for children and the incredible fantasy that can be brought to life through the magic of events.

Utopia runs by the ethos that no matter your budget or requirements, you will receive the highest quality and the utmost detail in every aspect. Most importantly you will have constant consultations and support in planning your perfect event.  “I want to create a world in which the guests can truly escape and experience the magic and that starts from the very first phone call.” – Marina

Due to Marina’s passion and knowledge of all her characters, she strives to bring perfect detail not only in the visual aspects but also the story.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?

One of our biggest challenges here in the UK is playing with the ever-changing weather elements. Of course, indoor events are desirable however many of our guests opt for the enchanting garden and outdoor events. Whilst these are a passion of ours, they can be a great challenge.

One of our events was set to take place on a sunny day – this, however, was not the case. The weather quickly turned windy and rainy. This was extremely detrimental to the design aspects such as balloon arches and equipment for the entertainment. We were prepared with a stand by strong marquee from our London providers and we were able to create an enchanting outdoor event whilst staying dry and heated.

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

There are many trends in the styling department that are very exciting at the moment. I personally love the heavenly cloud designs using cotton or balloons to create clouds and design a dreamy event.

The second would be the use of nature, playing with plants in balloon features and animal props, and featuring the earth in our styling. With current events happening at this time, we seem to be enjoying our replenished environment and natural surroundings.

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

Stay within your colour scheme and decide on two features that are important to you! So for instance, if you were going with an underwater theme, decide which two elements would make the most impact such as a balloon arch and the cake display table. This is an exquisite feature and can make an event luxurious even if you have no other decoration or entertainment. You can makeshift a lot of things in this theme such as playing with tie-dye (purple, green, blue) and water features to make an impact.

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

This is a thrilling question for any event planner so it was a challenge to keep it brief. One of our favourite themes has been paradise and adventure. We have designed this many times but if we had unlimited resources, we would completely build the set of the venue from scratch such as the pirate ship with large organza sails, the specially imported jungle greenery, and the sand and water flooring. We would take inspiration from incredible artists such as the Imagineers that helped bring Disneyland to life with its extraordinary detail.

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

The relationships with your vendors, freelancers, and artists are extremely important. It is good to have regular catch-ups and have ongoing support with each other. For example, featuring and promoting each other on social media.

It is also important to always consult first with them when receiving events even if their schedules are unavailable to help with a certain event – it shows loyalty!

Additionally, they can help recommend you to others – they would know your taste and standards best.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Always seek an event company’s expertise. An initial consultation costs nothing and can provide you with the necessary details. We call it the skeleton of the event. For fundraisers, it is important for the budget to be spent on the things that will present the ethos and message you are trying to get across.

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Again I’d like to bring attention back to the circumstances of COVID-19. This is a very difficult time for the events industry, however, I am looking forward to discovering my new place in the industry and we have all become more astute in utilising the online world.

What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?

I have always been enthralled with themes, characters, and details. I have been planning my own birthday parties down to the letter for as long as I can remember. I wanted to have my own stamp on the events industry and pioneer it my own way.

We are still young as a company and grateful to have been designing such wonderful events in our first year.

What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?

In 2012 I was hired by Alexson Entertainment as the head stylist. The design and styling aspect was all too easy for me and the clients desired expectations were successfully met.

It was a particularly rewarding experience learning about the required managerial skills from Alexson Entertainment’s founder and London events expert Emilee Alexson.

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your business?

There are countless things we are continuously learning within our company. Whilst we knew the importance of marketing, I wish we had brought in a marketing and social media expert from the beginning to design our platforms and work on our SEO strategies. This would have saved a lot of time.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

We have received many extravagant and odd requests. Some that come to mind are a custom mini Bentley for a one-year-old to arrive in. The other a water installation on the ground of the main party floor.

I am very blessed to live in London, a city where virtually anything is possible. With the right prop designers, this was able to be fulfilled. The more extravagant, all the more fun.

Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?

An additional message from the founder of Utopia Parties – “if you have imagination the impossible can be made possible!”

Susan Null
Author: Susan Null

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