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Why did you set up The Bespoke Wedding Company?
I worked in corporate event planning, which meant big budgets and exotic locations, but I wanted to do something with a more personal touch. I planned my own wedding in 2000, but even with all my experience, I wished someone had been there to take responsibility for the little details. I knew other brides must feel the same, and three years later I launched The Bespoke Wedding Company.
What makes your service ‘bespoke’?
Things have changed so much since I got married. Fifteen years ago I didn’t realise I could have absolutely anything I wanted so, while I loved what was, at the time, a very unusual Choccywoccydoodah cake covered in handmade white chocolate roses, a lot of my choices, such as the white dress and the traditional photography, were chosen just because that’s what everyone did. These days it’s the opposite problem – there’s so much choice it’s overwhelming, and everyone wants to be different. My job is to help my clients focus, and create a wedding that is a perfect reflection of them both, whatever form that might take.
What is the secret to your success?
I’m a perfectionist, a freak for details, and an obsessive note-taker. I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junky, which is helpful working in an industry where the emotional stakes are so high.
What’s been your most complicated wedding?
I specialise in complicated! My conference-planning background means that I’m good at logistically challenging jobs such as marquee builds and three-day events. I’ve organised several weddings at amazing venues such as Tower Bridge and the Wallace Collection, where we’ve had only 60 minutes from public closing to get the kitchen in, tables up and laid, production installed, and dance floor down. When the first guests were greeted by a glass of champagne, they had no idea of the transformation that had just taken place!
The most bizarre wedding?
It was a wedding party and the guests were asked to meet on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, before being whisked to a secret venue beneath London Bridge. There was a Russian-themed drinks reception; entertainment was a circus-skills workshop with magicians, fire-eaters and jugglers, and the day ended with a Moroccan afternoon tea.
What is your job on the day?
Aside from coordinating anything between 20-30 teams, including florists, caterers and entertainers, and ensuring that the wedding party and guests have everything they need, I do whatever has to be done to ensure the day runs like clockwork. I’ve shovelled cowpats from a field that was shortly to host a wedding picnic; comforted tearful relatives; fixed wobbling wedding cakes and rescued tumbling champagne fountains.
What do you look forward to the most?
That moment just before everyone sits down to the Wedding Breakfast and everything looks perfect – candles lit, place settings just so. I always ask if the bride and groom want to see it before everyone is seated, because that’s always a special moment.
What do you love most about your job?
The connections and relationships I build. I get to know the couple and their families really well over the months and come to really care about them and their wedding. Even after more than a decade in the business, the moment the bride walks down the aisle always brings a tear to my eye – although I’d never let a guest see!
When you’re not working, what’s your perfect weekend?
The best start to any weekend is always a Friday night mini-disco in the living room with my three-year-old daughter Neve, then a takeaway and movie with my hubby. Saturday would be a long family walk in the countryside at nearby Bookham Common, or a picnic on Downside Common, followed by a sneaky glass of Rosé at our local pub on the way home. Then I’d love a bit of ‘me-time’ with a massage at one of my favourite spa spots, such as Brooklands Hotel or the totally indulgent Coworth Park.
Thanks to: Joe Short • Pippa Mackenzie