Grapevine Stories

A day in the life of a wedding and event planner

CEO and founder of Apollo Event Consultants, Tim Hanbury gives us a run down of what sounds like a seriously mammoth task of being in charge of a wedding day!


Remember its been around 6 months since the planning started and the day has finally arrived.

Wedding at 3.00pm

6:30am - The alarm goes off.  I’m not a good morning person, so I tend to lie in bed telling myself I have to get up, which usually takes about 10 mins.  Then it’s a rush.  In the shower, dress casually as there are things to do, then breakfast.

7:00am - Cook myself a bacon sandwich – its going to be a long day and I can’t operate on an empty stomach. I suffer terribly from being ‘hangry’ being hungry makes me cross / angry!!  

While having my breakfast, I check through my To Do list and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I always take with me two tool boxes; one with proper tools and the other my Blue Peter box.  Everything from Blue Tac to safety pins; Ibuprofen, paracetamol, cough sweets, you name it, it’s a walking chemist.  You never know who might need something.  It also contains a dust pan and brush, Febreze, air freshener.  I also have wellies and waterproofs. 

In addition to the above, I have second copies of the table plan on my lap top, as people do drop out on the day – I know, really annoying, but it does happen!!  Then I can re-print it. 

I never like to be more than a couple of hours from site so leaving from home is much easier as everything is there.  If I leave the night before, I have to be even more organised!

It's then time to pack, depending on the style, it's either a morning coat or smart suit.  You never want to upstage anyone, but blend in so you can step out of the shadows as and when required.  It's not my day after all!! 

9.00am - Pop in to see the bride and her family.  Make sure that the florist has dropped of the bouquets and hair pieces and any other floral arrangements needed for the wedding party.  Answering any last minute concerns and generally making sure everything is calm.  It's usually a fun-filled time with Champagne being drunk and continental breakfasts going around.  

Check the photographer is on site and doing their job.

Then it's off to the church.  Always good to check the route, make sure the cows haven’t got out, no accidents, trees down etc.  Check in with florists who will be doing the last minute arrangements. This always has to be done on the day, especially in the summer as flowers wilt so quickly and they need to look amazing.  Check there are enough button holes and where they will be kept.  Also, make sure a place has been kept outside the front of the church for the wedding cars.    


11.00am - Back to the reception and the marquee.  The early catering team will be arriving. Tables to be laid.  This can't be done the night before as birds and animals do get into marquees if they want to.  I remember once having to clear the dance floor of foxes poo!! At least it was on the dance floor rather than the coconut matting....!

My team then arrives – which includes a duty electrician, he powers up the generator and plugs in the ovens, hot cupboards, water boilers etc to make sure everything is working – if not, he will fix it.  A Lighting and Sound technician checks all the lighting and sound system in the marquee and position of speeches agreed.  Every father of the bride has a different way of doing speeches.  Some want an easel to hide behind, some will hold notes, so we need a mic stand, some like to walk around, which we try to avoid. 

I will then go through the running order with my brilliant number two Hannah.  We’ll walk and talk the reception, agree on who’s doing what. One at the Church and one over seeing the marquee set up. Hannah  will then be assigned to look after the bride and take care of all her wishes on the day. As you can imagine I’m not that accustom to applying lippy or sorting out a fake eyelash.  

12:00pm - Grab a quick sandwich to reboot the energy levels.  Then change into suit and make sure I look reasonably presentable. 

This is the time to take a breath.  My expectations are always far greater than the Bride and Grooms and its great to see the long list of things to do, start getting smaller.  Simple things like checking there is enough loo paper in the Portaloos and there are candles.  By the way, Paul Hawkins makes the most delicious smelling candles. 

1:30pm - I head off to the ushers' lunch.  Hopefully, the photographer will have arrived and be catching those fun moments of laughter and pre-wedding nerves.  Also, I remind everyone that they have to be on duty an hour before the wedding to meet and greet guests as they start to arrive at the church.  

2.00pm - Check in with the reception to make sure all is going swimmingly and no dramas.  Groom and his ushers now at the church.  Button holes in place and firmly fixed and everyone knows what they are doing – sort of!!  Who’s walking the Mother of the bride to her seat?  A very important job!!

2.30pm - Wedding cars arrive at the brides house. This is a really special time when the Father of the bride sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time.  I don’t know a single father who hasn’t shed a tear at this moment. It's such an emotional time. 

I will now check in with Hannah for the last time before the service. Leave everything at the reception in her capable hands.

The wedding party will now leave for the church.  Always being a couple of minutes late. I will ring the best man, if I’m not at the church to let them know the wedding party is on its way.  

By now, all guests are seated and wedding cars draw up outside the church.  Photos taken, last minute preparations by bridesmaids.  Then its all go, go, go!    

It's at this time that phone is set to silent!

Most services take approximately 45 minutes.  I would normally pop out of the church 5 minutes before the end and let the reception know we’re on schedule.   Then, once photos have been taken, I’ll let Hannah know they are on their way.

4.00pm - Hannah will be on hand to greet the Bride and Groom with a glass of Champagne.  Again, another emotionally charged moment as it’s the first time they have been on their own as married couple. 

Waiting staff on hand to hand round canapes and drinks as guest stat arriving.  Hopefully, the ushers will have done their duty in parking guests properly!!

6.00pm - I will call for dinner.  Guest will be seated and I will welcome the bride and groom into the marquee for the first time as a married couple. 

The evening then progresses through our timeline, which is a minute by minute guide to the day.  Dinner will be served and speeches will take place at the agreed time.

It's always really crucial to make sure that guests don’t feel they are being rushed, but things are kept moving so the evening doesn’t drag.

8:30pm - Time for the first dance.  The evening really gets going now and as we say “You have to just let it go”!  Waiting staff keep the marquee tidy, and bar staff keep the drinks flowing and the disco is in full swing. Our job is now to start thinking about the end. 

If there are fireworks, we have to liaise with the firework team so they are let off at the exact agreed time.  All fireworks have to be done by 11.00pm.  

If the bride and groom are leaving that night, we have to make sure the taxi is on time.  Overnight cases are ready.  Bride and groom might want to change before departing, so we have to factor that in too. 

Hopefully everything has gone according to plan and we’ve had no hiccups along the way.

12:00am - The bride and groom depart and we can take a sigh of relief that we did the best job possible to make it their perfect day.

This time is rather nice, we take a moment to reflect on the day debrief on any stand out moments and realise how tired we are as the adrenaline stops flowing.  

I then go round and thank everyone involved while they pack up.  We then all leave around the same time in the knowledge it was another huge success.  I love the drive home as I’m usually wide awake and I put Elvis on full blast to get me home.  

“Good night”

The job is not over yet as we have to be on site the following day to start dismantling everything.  All sound, lighting and power has to be dismantled as suppliers will be arriving on Monday morning. I’m back on site to over see the derig too to make sure that everything is left exactly how we found it. 

One of the down sides to our job is that we’ll spend at least six months in the company of our clients and get to know them really well.  However, once the wedding is over we may never see them again.

That said, it’s got to be the best job in the world!!

Tim Hanbury

Managing Director Apollo Event Consultants Ltd          

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