A day in the life
An insight into the life of a wedding planner
Saturday 3rd September was a rainy morning. Although this is every bride’s nightmare it is my job to gently remind them of two things; this is Manchester, where we can experience all four seasons in one afternoon, so a rainy start does not necessarily mean a rainy day, and secondly some actually say that it is good luck to have rain on your wedding as it is a sign of new starts, unity and renewal. The bonus of having all aspects of your wedding day in one venue is that you don’t have to step foot outside of the hotel; so come rain or shine your day does not need to be impacted by the weather.
My morning started nice and early, arriving to the hotel at 10am to a message to call the nervous bride. The morning of the wedding is one of my favourite parts of being an event planner and sharing in the nervous excitement is a true perk of the job for me. A trip up to the Ballroom to see the venue dresser in full creative swing followed by a short and reassuring phone call, left the bride returning to her pampering and champagne as her and her three bridesmaids continued their wedding day preparation spread over two of our interconnecting bedrooms where they had spent the previous night.
Knowing that everything was under control I then could squeeze two wedding show rounds to perspective brides and grooms before the ceremony started at 2:30pm. A site visit on a wedding day is the best way for potential new clients to get a real feel for the venue. It helps them to visualise the room and allows them to imagine how their big day will unfold. It is not hard to be passionate about weddings, and sharing the excitement with each couple comes very naturally. Not only have I been a bride myself, but my experience with a wide range of different weddings over the years means that I can call on past examples to offer my assistance in most situations. It never gets old to be part of the planning process.
Before going back to check on the progress of the bridal party, I stopped by the now dressed ceremony room to take a few photos and greeted the groomsman who were congregating for Dutch courage in the bar. The photographer and videographer were insitu in the bedroom, busy capturing the finishing touches before the day got truly underway. Some brides feel more comfortable being shown a photo or two of the room before the ceremony and for others they prefer the surprise of seeing the room fully dressed for the first time. This particular bride and her daughter who had not only played a large part in the planning process, but was also giving her away, wanted to add assurance that all was going to plan behind the scenes, and seeing the room in its full glory made everything a little more real for them. The flowers had arrived since my last trip to the bedrooms so my next duty was to seek out the mothers of the bride and groom, as well as the groomsmen to ensure the photographer was present to capture the all-important pinning of the corsages and buttonholes.
The wedding day is the accumulation of countless emails and phone calls, a menu taste, face to face meetings and in this case a ceremony and dance rehearsal, spanning over a year. So it isn’t any wonder that as an event planner it is an important day for me too. It is so satisfying to see all of the tiny details you have agonised over all come together as the operations team and the external suppliers bring the vision you have spent so long talking about and meticulously making notes of, come to life. Possibly my favourite part of the day is the registrars arrival, when you can call upon the groom to take care of the legalities before heading to the bride’s room one last time to bring her down for her wedding day to begin.
The bride and her bridesmaids look completely stunning, and the dress she described looks even more perfect than I could have imagined. The youngest daughter is already in tears and everyone is anxious to get going. My last little tip to all the bridal party is to hide the much needed tissues; folded very neatly, behind the stem of the orchid bouquets that all four ladies were tightly clutching, whilst we waited for the go ahead from the operations team. Once all of the guests were safely behind closed doors in the ceremony room, the bridal party could be escorted to the pre function area to nervously wait for the string trio to finish and the entrance music to begin. As the familiar chords played the bridesmaids partnered with the two best men walked down the aisle closely followed by the bride and her eldest daughter.
The doors closed and the ceremony began. By the time the newly-weds were signing the register and the marriage was official, a glance at the watch shows that we are running a little behind. It is all hands on deck to have everything possible in place in Ballroom 2 so this can be carried through to Ballroom 1 to speed up the turnaround procedure. The operations team are like nothing you have ever seen before and by the time the guests are enjoying the champagne and canapes after the ceremony, despite being over 20 minutes behind, the whole team are working their magic to have the tables in place for the wedding breakfast. Not only does the beautiful white aisle need to be removed and the candles and flowers moved from the plinths and the floor to become centrepieces, but the 95 chairs need to make way for the top table and nine round tables that will transform the room. With everyone pitching in we managed to make up the time and were ready for Malcolm, the toastmaster, to call the guests through almost right on time. Just before the new Mr & Mrs are announced for the first time, my services are called upon again to help the bride transform from the wedding ceremony to the breakfast. Her amazing dress allows the lace to be removed and a belt added to adapt her look. Thankfully I am well practiced in tying pretty bows!
It never ceases to amaze me how slick the team make the food service look. With a food waiter per table, a wine waiter every two tables, plus an operations manager in the room and a second operations manager in the kitchen, the food is served with unparalleled proficiency. This is the stage as an event planner, which I would ordinarily leave the wedding in the operations teams’ capable hands, but some weddings are harder than others to walk away from. This wedding in particular had gotten under my skin and the promise of an emotional speech from the daughter of the bride and singing waiters during the main course I could not resist staying, just a little longer.
The singing waiters went down a storm with the guests, once they had gotten over the shock of the outburst of song over the cod rarebit, and whilst desserts were being served the bride and groom were able to sneak off with the photographer for a photo or two. Every wedding is different and listening to what each particular couple want from their day is so important. Some prefer to use the drinks reception for photos and for others their priority is to spend time with their guests. The real trick is making either option work so that the day flows and there is not a lot of waiting around for anyone.
The speeches were certainly worth waiting for and a little tear was certainly shed, but as they went on a little longer than planned, we were once again running behind. This is often the case with a tightly packed entertainment schedule during the meal. My role primarily involves the planning stages of the wedding, however working so closely with the operations team does mean that I can always step in to help where needed. I could not walk away with yet another turnaround to take place prior to the evening guests to arrive, so once again I rolled up my sleeves and picked up a chair or two as we removed the partition wall to open up the Grand Ballroom for the evening reception. In order to prepare for the evening the bar, stage, dancefloor and DJ equipment were already in place, so all that is involved is adding a few extra tables, changing table cloths and setting up the food station for the evening buffet.
Throughout the day I am able to check in with the bride and groom to make sure everything is running smoothly for them and to help with adhoc requests. This can include anything from taking cards and gifts up to their bedroom, to helping buckle up the change of shoes the bride has for the evening reception, to even being on my hands and knees on the dancefloor pinning up the wedding dress to ensure the bride can not trip over it for the surprise flash mob to come during the first dance. I think it is these little touches that can really make the day even more special. I also ensure that the bride and groom get to view the room once it has been reset before the guests come in. This not only gives them a sneak preview of the room dressed but also allows them a few precious moments alone to take everything in. We even go as far as holding back a plate of canapes for them during the drinks reception as often they are so busy talking to their guests that they forget to eat!
As the evening guests begin to arrive and everyone offers their compliments and congratulations to the bride and groom, everyone from the hotel front can begin to relax. The only jobs left for us are to serve drinks, manage the bar and serve the evening buffet. All of the day’s big tasks are complete, all of the guests are happy and the day so far has been a success. As I begin to say my goodbyes I am very much aware that there are just two key parts of the day to go – the cake cutting and the very special first dance. It is the daughter who tells me that I can’t possible miss the first dance flash mob, so I vow to stay, again just a little longer.
The first dance is always a talking point during the run up to the wedding. Some couples are very much put off by the idea of everyone looking at them as they shuffle along to the music and may even decide not to have a first dance at all. My advice would be to absolutely embrace this opportunity as it is one of the few times during the wedding day that the couple can enjoy a conversation in relative privacy. It is such a special point in a day that flies by far too fast. This is not a conversation I needed to have with this couple! Not only were they having a first dance, but a few from the wedding party were joining in to surprise the other guests for a flash mob that nobody was expecting. It was completely worth the wait, the crowd that had gathered around the dancefloor were clapping and whooping and it certainly got the party started.
Somehow 9pm had rolled around and it was finally time to say a final congratulations before wishing the bride and groom a wonderful evening to come.
Laura Krasij, Event Sales Supervisor