Posted Tuesday, June 01st, 2010 by admin
As an avid viewer of Living TV’s “Four Weddings”, I would sit glued to the television every week, being a typically over critical wedding co-ordinator, knowing beyond a doubt that we could do so much better given the chance, after all our happy couples and their guests always rave about what a wonderful day they’ve had with us. I just wished one of my Brides would apply so we could show them how it’s done!
Now, if I’d realised how powerful my wishes were I may have asked for a lottery win or for Brad Pitt to call and say he’d made a terrible mistake taking up with that Angelina girl and really all he wanted was to whisk me off to Barbados, but alas, I got what I actually wished for … a telephone call from a very excited Samantha Weatherall. She almost squealed down the phone as I answered, she told me that she’d applied to be on Four Weddings and, assuming the Hotel management agreed, had been accepted. Well of course, without a second thought I said “Yes, absolutely, how exciting!” little did I realise what this actually meant in reality.
After putting the phone down I pulled out all of the information for their wedding and started pouring over every detail, trying to see what we could do to make the day even better than already arranged. Then I remembered that Samantha had some very specific and individual ideas about how her wedding day should be, not at all what we usually do, but because it was her big day and not mine I had bent the rules to accommodate her.
Rather than a sit down meal of beautifully plated and presented dishes, she had asked for a carvary style buffet. Although a carvary buffet is cooked to the same high standard as all of our food, I didn’t think it would look as pretty as plated dishes. And rather than retiring to the lounge for a break between the wedding breakfast and evening reception to allow time for the room to be tidied and re-set, she wanted the meal to run straight into her evening function. This also meant that because space was required for the dance floor her maximum capacity guest list would now fill the room to bursting … panic was setting in!
Now as much as I was panicking I guess Samantha was panicking twice as much, because she was working to quite a tight budget, and knowing that she was going to be scrutinised not just by 3 other brides, who of course wanted her wedding to appear worse than theirs, but the viewing public watching from the comfort of their sofas, criticising everything like she and I had in the past.
Every week, she stretched her budget further and further to include extra drinks and extra decorations. I helped out wherever I could with free chair covers and extra candles, but I couldn’t encourage her to change the details of her day to include a sit down meal or to take a break between the wedding breakfast and evening function.
As the date grew nearer the telephone calls became almost daily, panic, then excitement, and back to panic again … and that was both of us. Plus, the film crew now also wanted to come up to film their final details meeting with Samantha, Sam and I … “Oh my gosh NO!”, I’ve gone in to a spin, not only am I worrying about how the Hotel will look on TV, now I’m worrying “How will I look on TV? I think I need a new suit, a new hair do, some minor cosmetic surgery? It is my television debut after all!”
When Samantha and Sam arrived at the Hotel to go over their final details, camera crew in tow, I realised by the shear number of boxes they’d brought, all filled to the brim with candles, decorations and bags of Autumn leaves, that this was going to be far more taxing than I’d ever imagined. With the cameras rolling Samantha pulled hundreds of different candles out of the boxes to explain exactly how she wanted the Hotel to be decorated. Her mental image was of a sunny Autumn day, with the crunch of red autumn leaves underfoot and inside the fire places lit with roaring fires, candles illuminating every corner of the Hotel; from every table, both inside and out, every fire place, side board, window ledge, you name it, and I know what you’re thinking … Fire Hazard, yep, me too but this is what she wants and I’m on camera trying to look unflappable, so “Of course, that’s fine, candles everywhere, that sounds beautiful … Autumn leaves scattered across the terrace, no problem” ahhhhhhhhhhhh!
Finally, the big day arrives, Sunday 4th October 2010. It was a glorious sunny day, crisp and cold, with all the colours of autumn reflecting in the lake. Samantha and Sam are in their respective rooms getting ready for the happiest day of their lives and I’m dashing around the Hotel like a woman possessed, trying to ensure that everything was ready, that everyone knew what they were doing. Of course everyone knew what they were doing, we do at least four weddings (no pun intended!) every month of the year, but all of a sudden it all seemed to become alien, so much more difficult and stressful than ever before.
My General Manager’s face was a picture, his own staff pouring bag after bag of dried leaves all over his freshly swept terrace!
When they and their guests returned from the Church the Hotel did look exactly as she’d imagined; a huge display of unique and unusual candles beneath our grand Venetian chandelier, the focal point as everyone came in out of the cold, the Hotel glowing in the candlelight and the view looked more picture perfect than ever before. At that point I realised everything was going to be just fine, and I could breath again.
After drinks, in the lounge and out on the terrace by the warmth of the braziers, it was time for the wedding breakfast; the buffet looked stunning, no need to worry about it not being as pretty as a plated meal after all, our Chef’s did us proud, and from the guests comments it tasted even better than it looked.
After their very heartfelt and entertaining speeches it was time to party, and party they did. The dance floor was filled to bursting, with some very interesting dance moves being thrown, the bar and lounge was full of laughter, and those 3 Brides (that I’d been watching all day) … well they were doing tequila slammers with Samantha and looking very much like they were having a great time.
As for the camera crew … I think we all got used to them pretty quickly and almost (only almost) forgot they were there.
After it was all over Samantha and Sam said that they had the most perfect day, and that feeling was echoed by the guests I had spoken to and on the happy faces all around on their big day.
When the show finally aired I watched with trepidation; was it as good as I had remembered, would they win, would we be slated … “I can’t watch!” So, from behind a cushion with only a glass of wine to soften the blow, I watched.
Sadly Samantha and Sam didn’t win, although their score on most shows would have been a winning one, this time it just wasn’t quite enough, beaten by another Samantha with a much bigger budget. Whether this was because her wedding was better or because of a few personality clashes I guess we’ll never know. More importantly though the Hotel did look as good as I had thought and apart from one bitchy comment about a slightly uneven chair cover bow and a rather unfair comment about fatty beef (I know it wasn’t) I have to say it was a huge success.
Well, I haven’t become famous, people don’t stop me in the street and ask for my autograph and Brad Pitt never did call after seeing me on the show, but The Beech Hill seems to be enjoying minor celebrity status. So many people who already have weddings booked with us have called to say how wonderful the Hotel came across and how pleased they were with their choice, and lots of peopled have stopped in for brochures, many of them booking because they saw the show. So I guess I’ll have to take it on the chin, The Beech Hill was the star and I was just an extra…
4 Weddings award winning Bag for Life barbeque Beech Hill brussel sprouts Champagne Chefs Children’s menu Christmas Competition Facebook family fireworks food critics fresh GM Blog gourmet & wine tasting night Gourmet Diners Club great food Head Chef healthy High Biggin Holker Hall Lake District Lake Windermere Living TV local ingredients MD Blog New Website New Years organic planet Prize Draw recycle Restaurant special offers summer ball twitter video Wedding Venue well balanced win Windermere Hotel windermere weddings