Weddings are such a joyous occasion and very emotional too! As a Bride or Groom, in the rush of planning and preparations, you often don’t realise how big an impact a wedding planner is having on your big day – all the little extra touches to make it special just for you. Alex from Stanton Manor gives us a rare glimpse into her job as the venue’s wedding planner.
The wedding day for me starts months, or even years ahead, as I take the couples through the entire planning and preparation. Following the initial show-round, I usually meet the Bride and Groom 6 months, 3 months and 1 month prior to the wedding day. This ensures I get to know the couple really well by the time the wedding day comes around, and gain the best possible understanding of their wants and wishes for the Big Day – from the type of atmosphere they want to create, their colour scheme, chosen suppliers, to how they want their napkins folded. All the little details make a difference on the day! Typical things I discuss with my couples are:
• Order of the day – what time is the civil ceremony or church booked for? This helps to form a timeline which will also help the couple decide what time the evening guests can arrive. The last thing you want is your guests to turn up halfway through the meal!
• Suppliers – I like to know who the various suppliers are and how to contact them, so if the flowers are not delivered on time it’s me who chases them up instead of making the Bride panic. I advise all couples to request a set-up time and contact details for who will be there on the day, so I am armed with all the information.
• Bridal party – it’s always useful to know who the Father-of-the-Bride is! It’s an important day for them too, so it’s nice to know their name at least!
• Food and drink – very important as it’s one of the things guests will remember – we’ve all been to weddings and talked about the food afterwards! I arrange a menu tasting for my couples so they can sample various dishes before choosing on the one they want or even give their guests a choice of menu. It’s a night my couples really enjoy as they get to sample the wine as well!
• Decorations and venue styling – every last detail does matter, so deciding how to fold the napkins is actually an important question to some couples, other couples look utterly surprised! I arrange various items to transform the venue, from chair covers with beautiful organza sashes, to ivory aisle runners for the ceremony. I give advice to couples on how they can make subtle changes to make the venue personal to them for the day, for example dotting pictures of friends and family around the place.
• Random questions – I get asked so many different questions, no single question is too random! From wanting to know the height of the ceiling and the length of the staircase, to asking if I know a magician or bagpiper, I’m happy to tell the couples anything they want to know – there really is no such thing as a stupid question!
Once all the meetings are over and the questions asked and answered, a week before the wedding I meet the couple for a final run-through. At this time they can drop off of all the special creations and ideas for the day. This will include decorations for the tables, a final rooming list and table plan if not already given, place cards, menu cards, candles, a wishing well, tree or guestbook, card box, and anything else the couple have prepared. I ask for a list from the Bride at this drop off, so we can talk through everything together, and I can then make any relevant notes.
This is the part where all the planning comes together and when the girly part of me is let loose!
On arrival I catch up with the Duty Manager who acts as a Master of Ceremonies, to confirm the plan of the day and any last minute changes.
First point of call is to check in with the Bride if she stayed overnight, and making sure she has had something to eat and a reassuring cuppa, as later in the day I know she will not want to eat anything when the adrenaline kicks in! Once I have spoken to the Bride and checked all is well, I complete any deliveries to other guests, like buttonholes or gifts or sometimes even a pair of cufflinks to the Groom if they too stayed the night prior.
Once all is well I can start putting into place any special requests from the Bride and Groom, and dress the room as required. If the couple are having a civil ceremony I oversee the whole thing, from getting the guests to their seats to pressing play on the iPod for the Bride’s entrance. I still get a lump in my throat as I press play and open the door for the Bride who is waiting to meet her man. It’s a really lovely moment and one I am pleased to be a part of every time!
Once the happy couple are celebrating with a glass of fizz I make sure the wedding breakfast is set exactly how they want it, and just to make sure I always sneak them into the room before their guests to get a peak at it in its full glory. Once all the guests are steated and the new Mr and Mrs are applauded into the room, I handover to the Duty Manger who then overseas the rest of the day. I say a goodbye the happy couple and leave comfortable in the knowledge that I have met and hopefully exceeded their expectations. It’s then my time to open a bottle of wine, and toast my latest lovely couple.
Alex is a full time Wedding Planner at Stanton Manor Hotel in Wiltshire. She has planned many happy days, from weddings with 2 guests up to large celebrations in a marquee on the beautiful lawns. Stanton Manor offers a flexible approach to weddings, so every couple can get their perfect day, from those wishing for an informal hog roast and bacon butty reception, to a traditional wedding breakfast for 100.
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