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For Better for Worse Blog
WHAT I’M REALLY THINKING: THE WEDDING COORDINATOR
Not so long ago it wasn’t uncommon for someone to work at one company all their lives. Many of our parents and grandparents would clock up years of loyal service in one business and have milestones marked with gifts of carriage clocks or gold watches.
These days, however, it’s rather surprising when you hear of someone who has worked for the same company for more than 20 years. But here, Wedding and Events Manager Claire Nicholl at Holdsworth House Hotel in Halifax, tells us what makes her tick after 20 years of helping couples arrange their nuptials:
LOVE YOUR JOB FROM THIS DAY FORWARD
“First things first, let me say I love my job. I wouldn’t have lasted this long otherwise! I’ve worked at Holdsworth House Hotel in Halifax for over 20 years now. I like to think of myself as a constant in people’s lives, momentarily. When I help a couple to plan their wedding I can be a familiar voice on the end of the phone every day for weeks or just a few times a year. I generally get to know couples really well in the process, so it’s not surprising I remember most of the two thousand or so couples I’ve helped get hitched!”
“There’s not much that phases me any more. Sometimes a bride might call with what she thinks is an unusual request, but actually it’s those requests that make every day exciting and every wedding completely different.
“For example one bride asked, “Can I bring my horse to the wedding?” And yes, we really did make that happen. We’re used to having four-legged friends at weddings here but its usually the canine variety not the equine sort! It’s not my job to ask the reasons why; it’s just to give the couple everything they want wherever we can. In fact the horse in this instance was an important part of the bride’s life and I’m pleased to say he appeared in the photos - and loved the geraniums!!”
THE WEDDING DRESS
“Many ask me if I get fed up of weddings, but the simple answer is no! Every couple is different; each has their own story of how they met and what makes their perfect day. We’re lucky that Holdsworth House is an historic Jacobean manor and lends itself to many styles of wedding from traditional fairytale to Steam Punk or vintage. So you can imagine we have all styles of wedding dress and suits walk down our isles.
“Seeing a bride’s choice of dress revealed on the day is one of the nice things for me and for wedding guests to experience. Sorry, but I’d never reveal if I’m a meringue or super sleek dress girl! That would be telling!!”
CHILDREN AT WEDDINGS
“It’s one question that couples ask my advice on a lot. Personally I love seeing children at weddings as you see the excitement and bewilderment on their faces. But I completely get it when couples also decide for their wedding to be child free zones.
“If, like Holdsworth House, your venue has plenty of gardens that give younger kids space to run around, then that’s better. We often allocate the lounge above our main function room as a children’s chill-out area too. It’s safe and secure and is a great place for an Xbox or movies for some down time.
“To avoid anyone grumbling on the day my advice is simply to be clear with your guests on what you’d like. Tell guests about any activities you have planned for younger guests, then parents can choose to bring additional toys or leave things at home.”
“The TV is very good at making some brides who are fussy about detail come across as Bridezillas. But if I had a penny for every time someone said ‘I’m you’re worst nightmare’ then I’d be very rich. I love detail in fact I’d probably be a Bridezilla myself!
“I don’t think you can do this job if you’re not an expert in detail. I tell couples that it doesn’t matter how many times they ring me to double or triple check something – ring me if it will put your mind at ease.
“At Holdsworth House we have very detailed systems and procedures to ensure the team knows exactly what’s going on at any one time of the wedding. And even though we’re one of the top wedding venues in Yorkshire, I don’t leave anything to chance.
“It’s not just me that’s been here over 20 years; Tracey Skinner is responsible for looking after couples on their wedding day. Tracey’s been here longer than me! If anyone is stressed on the day, Tracey has a wonderful way of resolving any issue and keeping everyone calm. From pinning buttonholes to sewing brides into their dresses, Tracey is known as the Fairy Godmother to many who’ve been married at Holdsworth House. She may have more Bridezilla stories – you’d have to ask her!”
PROMISE TO LOVE, HONOUR AND TRUST IN MY VENUE…
“I appreciate that some people also have super organised jobs. Those in customer service especially, like us in hospitality, like to know that every i is dotted and every t is crossed.
“But sometimes when you have your head in such detail, the bigger more obvious things and timings go out of the window. A good venue will help remind you of when you need to supply important information. I often have to remind people to send me their table plans so we know where vegetarians or vegans will be sitting. Or to let me know if anyone is joining you for breakfast the next day so Chef can order extra produce. Or even to confirm if speeches are before or after the wedding meal – so we know when to get the food ready to serve piping hot!
“When all is said and done, building a great rapport and communication is key. If you don’t communicate, then it won’t be as fun for either of us as it should be. Weddings are happy events, time for celebration. And whether that takes two weeks or two years it’ll be time that neither of us forgets.”
Claire Nicholl is senior wedding and events manager at Holdsworth House Hotel in Halifax. www.holdsworthhouse.co.uk
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