Meet dreamer, travel lover, and Forever Lovestruck Founder, Caroline Milne! Born and bred in London, England, as the adored child of Mauritian parents, she's always hankered for shores further afield and dreamt of working and living in the tropics. Now, she gets to share the love and wonder she discovered on the rustic and remote island of Koh Tao with other lovestruck couples. By leveraging over a decade of experience planning and managing large-scale events across the UK, Caroline helps fun-loving couples plan their ultimate traveling adventure that ends in “I do!”
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
I relocated to Koh Tao, Thailand several years ago, with over 10 years of event coordination experience from the UK. I worked as a Marketing Manager to provide corporate clients with events marketing solutions, bringing their brands and visions to life. I worked with all sorts of clients, from alcohol brands to baby care, to frozen yogurts and digital providers—it was extremely varied!
I traded London for a more relaxed pace of life on Koh Tao, although that was never the plan! I came to Tao for a six-week holiday in 2011 to complete my Dive Master training. I loved the island so much that I never made it back home! You'll hear similar tales from most of the ex-pats who live on this tiny island. Fast forward a few years and I met and married my wonderful husband here in Thailand. After we had returned from our honeymoon, my wedding planner approached me about setting up my own planning company and that planted the seed. With all the experience I brought from home, I felt that I had the skill set needed, and a few short months later, Forever Lovestruck was born!
Why did you start Forever Lovestruck?
At University (many moons ago!) I trained in Education and went on to teach in schools for several years. The teaching, along with my corporate event planning experience, meant that it wasn’t such a big leap to move to the wedding industry—planning and organization is very much in my blood! However, it really was the joy that I had in working with my own wedding planner, bringing all the details together to create a magical three-day event that I knew I wanted more! Not only that, but Koh Tao is such a beautiful island, a little bit off the beaten path with an easy-going rustic charm that I believe it to be one of the most magical places in SE Asia to get married. There really is no greater buzz than working with a couple to realize their wedding dreams on this paradise island!
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
Weddings don’t always have to follow the same formula. Traditions are great (who doesn’t love personal, heart-felt marriage vows or great after-dinner speeches), but I'd love to see more twists on traditions that reflect the couple’s personality. These don’t necessarily have to be huge things, but my heart always melts when I see parents or grandparents as bridesmaids, or why not plan a ceremony just as the sun is setting and light up the space with fairy lights and candles? Something unexpected is always well remembered, so be unique!
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want to?
As a destination planner, almost always working across several time zones, Aisle Planner enables us to work super smart. While our couples are sleeping, we're able to work on their weddings and have updates for them as they awake. It means that we make the most effective use of our time and theirs to streamline the entire planning process. The planning portal means that every single element of their day is hosted in one platform—nothing goes amiss, emails don't get lost, large attachments don't get stuck in the cloud and the bonus, it's beautifully laid out and so easy to use. It's by far my favorite collaboration tool!
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
We use almost all features fully; however, I'd have to say that the timeline is one of the most crucial features for me. I have a wedding folder for each event that stays by my side and the timeline is always in the very first sleeve. This is essentially my bible for the day. As we typically host duel-location weddings (a beach ceremony followed by an in-villa reception or semi-private restaurant reception), there are always two teams working simultaneously, so keeping track of what should be done where and when is essential for the smooth running of the day. We pour a lot of detail into the timeline and love the added features where we can assign responsible parties and color-code line items.
However, the icing on the cake is the ability to filter the timeline. We create one master copy and then several filtered copies with only the relevant items needed for different vendors. We also create mini pocket timelines for the couple and the key members of the bridal party to slip into their pocket or handbag. It really is a fantastic feature!
If you weren't the Founder of Forever Lovestruck what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
Although I was born and raised in the UK, my parents are from Mauritius. Since living in Thailand, I now know that island living is most definitely where I'd want to be. So, if we'd left Koh Tao, I think we would've relocated to Mauritius and opened a little B&B on the beach where my chef husband would cook the breakfasts and offer simple evening meals and I would tend to the rooms and guests.
As a business owner on the remote island of Koh Tao, what are some of the challenges and benefits you’ve overcome and experienced?
The island is off the beaten path and requires a few extra steps to reach it. As such, most of the trappings of modern life have yet to catch up with this simpler pace of life. Fast food restaurants, superstores, and shopping centers simply haven’t reached the island. Koh Tao provides what you need but avoids all the demands of the modern world. It offers our couples the perfect tropical destination for a relaxed and intimate wedding.
Our biggest challenge is the fact that there are no rental companies on Koh Tao, which means that everything we use at our weddings has either been built on the island or purchased from the mainland or overseas and shipped to Koh Tao. The investment in equipment has been considerable over the time we've been operating but we now have a comprehensive selection of items to offer our couples. Everything from various charger plates and matching cutlery, to a generous selection of table décor to larger items such as peacock chairs, our oak barrel bar, and our new seating lounge furniture.
What are three things you never show up without on event day?
1. My tool kit. It literally has everything that one could possibly need in the event of an emergency from a portable steamer, chalk pens for touching up signs, to a fully charged battery pack with all phone charging cables.
2. A jumbo window squidgy. It sounds strange I know, but this key item flattens out the sand at the beach so that the aisle looks picture perfect.
3. Cold towels. We offer ice-cold, scented towels as part of our beach ceremony package, and without fail, every guest loves the simple ingenuity of this gesture. We often hear "you really do think of everything!" when these appear during cocktail hour. Guests love it and so does the team—it can get hot out here!
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
Never stop learning. I learn something new from every event; something could always have been done slightly differently or there could be a better way of managing a logistical issue. These tend to be super small details that the client would never know about but I make a point of asking my team if anything that could be done to make their job easier for next time. This constant fine-tuning and tweaking ultimately creates a better wedding experience for our couples whilst building a solid, experienced team.
What’s your trademark in the client or event experience?
One of the things that we hear most of from our couples is that we think of everything—we certainly do try! We meticulously plan and organize everything, right down to the tiniest detail. A big part of the client experience is getting to know our couples well and building trust. We spend a lot of time discussing their vision and what's important to them. Being a destination planner, in most cases, we don’t meet in person until the boat docks into the pier a few days before their wedding, so transparency and trust is key. I like our couples to feel like they have a trusted friend in us, that we only have the very best intentions for them and that nothing is ever too much for their special day.
Is there anything you're particularly excited about working on this year?
I'm very excited to be working on a wedding photographer’s retreat which is planned to take place next year on Koh Tao. This is a collaboration with other professionals to create a week-long retreat for aspiring photographers to hone their craft and learn the technical skills of wedding photography. For this project, I've been asked to design and create the wedding set-ups—wedding arches, tablescapes, etc. The styling will be exclusively beachy boho, I’m very excited!
Just for fun
What’s the most used tool in your emergency kit?
A steamer! Pretty much every bride requires this for their dress after traveling to Thailand.
What’s one trend you hope to see more of?
Although symmetry is everything, I'm seriously loving the asymmetric wedding arches popping up on my Instagram feed. I always love to try new things and I’ve been dying to make one for some time and I hope that one of our couples will opt for one!
If you could plan any celebrity’s wedding, whose would it be?
Miriam Margolyes! She's hands down one of the most naturally funniest celebs out there and I think her wedding would be an absolute hoot. In fact, I’d want to be a guest!
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever created for a wedding or event?
We often get asked for lance fireworks in letters. We’ve created a couple of proposals with "Marry Me?" in giant fireworks. It always takes my breath away (as well as the person being proposed to!).
Want to see more from Caroline? Check out her website foreverlovestruck.com!