Event Manager - wibbler.com

All hooked up, nowhere to go…

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So, the aftermath of The Engagement announcement was enjoyable! Most people said it was about time, others were amazed that I’d started settling down, and Jac tried to guess the event from my mysterious non-committal “I have news” email to him. “Before looking at the answer,” he wittered on, “let’s take the following facts into mind: Valentine’s Day has just passed, you spent the weekend in Bath, you have bought a house together, you’ve been with Michelle for longer than I have been with all my girlfriends put together. You must be engaged. SPLENDID. Now, let’s just check…”
And the rest of the people? Well, amusingly some seemed to be using my commitment-phobia as justification that they shouldn’t settle down themselves. That’s pulled the rug, hasn’t it.. 😉
Still, what I didn’t realise is that as soon as an engagement is announced, everyone asks, “Do you have a date for the wedding?”. God knows I’m not the best planner in the world, and of course the answer is “no”. However, to get a date, you need to know a venue, and to get a venue you need to know what kind of wedding you want. I may well be using my friend and Event Manager Extraordinaire Paul D regularly, and my Best Man status at Nick’s wedding in October will be a useful learning ground. Where on earth do you start, though? Confetti.co.uk seems as good a place as any. And, as many will know, my decision-making is legendarily lengthy – so any advice from you guys would be great…

A Secret Trip to Bath

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The plan was going better than I had hoped. I surged off the M25 slip road and coasted into 6th gear, sweeping past the slow-moving lorry as the rain pattered more and more urgently on the windscreen.
I decided to chance it. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we went away right now for the weekend?” I remarked nonchalantly.
“Yes, it would,” Michelle agreed, looking confusingly at the big navigation screen in front of her, “but we’re going to Paul’s barbeque – he wouldn’t be too happy!”
A mischievous grin spread across my face. “He won’t know.”
“What? Why?”
“Because we’re not going to Paul’s.”
And so it was that for the first time in three and a half years I had managed to put the wind up Michelle, as it were. For the only time in memory, I have been able to keep something a secret from her for a month and a half, and I was proud. As I detailed the lengths I had gone to, and how everyone knew but her, my mind strayed to poor Paul and his girlfriend Liz. Paul and I had planned this event for the last month, only for Paul to have to pull out at the last moment. Never mind – we were off for a lazy weekend hotel stay in Bath, and nothing could stop us.
There is a curious certainty about travelling west of London – that the closer you get to Wales, the more rain you’ll find. This was our 3rd visit to Dorian House in the heart of Bath and my ninth visit to that area of the country – and without exception every trip has been marred by storms, wind and rain. Undaunted, we ploughed on.
We arrived at nine in the evening, and immediately set about ordering a taxi to the nearest Indian. The Eastern Eye, an enormous place in an old Roman banqueting hall, calmed our troubled stomachs and thoughts turned to the next couple of days. Paul, an event manager through and through, had been phoning and emailing regularly over the last few weeks with thoughts on what we should do – a trip to the zoo, and Comedy Walk around Bath, the obligatory visit to the Roman Baths – but without him there was little motivation to move outside our comfort zone. We settled on rising late the next morning, and shopping until the early evening.
And we stuck well to our plan. The exasperated phonecall from the hotel manager at 11am – “we really need to clean your room now, if you wouldn’t mind” – made me think that it was as good a time as any to haul my great carcass out of bed. Feeling energetic, we walked the 1 mile into town, stopping off on route to marvel at new “Japanese-style” apartments overlooking the whole of Bath – “just ?200,000 for a one bedroom home, sir” the saleman informed us, apparently without batting an eyelid. As we landed on familiar High Street territory, The Gadget Shop jumped out at us.
One hour later, having discussed at length with a female assistant the merits of a huge, phallic-shaped vibrating massager – “it gets into all your nooks and crannies” – we emerged with 3 items. One was the massager, and the other two…. well, they’ll be kept secret until the next party. But lunch was looming and after Michelle was attacked by a couple of friendly crows we found the appropriately-named Yum Yum Thai.
By then it was three o’clock and we were waning. Stocking up with edible goodies from Marks and Spencer sounded like a good plan and half an hour later we were at the checkout, about to hail a bus home. The bus came, we clambered aboard with multiple bags, and let the good man drive us up the hill.
And that, pretty much, was that. The hotel was as good as ever, Bath was as enjoyable as ever, and next time, god dammit, Paul and Liz are coming with us. You hear?

An Element of Security

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“Do you want to be security for me for one night next July? He’s rich, and there’s ?100 in it for you.”
So here I was, one year later, sitting in the pitch black at the entrance to one of the largest houses I’ve ever seen. Paul D, old friend and Event Manager, was organising the night, I’d enlisted Jac as my comrade for the evening, and together our remit was to parade the substantial grounds, making sure no border mischief took place in the grounds. The event? A combination of one birthday, one A-level completion and a 25 year wedding anniversary. The location and family involved I’m sworn to secrecy about, but suffice to say that the party cost around ?35,000 and was frankly enormous.
The evening begin with a stutter. Jac had managed to catch the end of the M25 roadwork nightmare, and issued an urgent text message from the depths of his Renault, indicating a degree of lateness. No matter, I surmised, we’d built in lateness – and sure enough Jac turned up in time for us to don our bouncer attire – suit and a bow tie – and leave for the event. It was about 2 miles from my house – by no means a difficult journey but easy enough, we found, to turn up in completely the wrong place. A few minutes of calling loudly for Paul and a quick phone call ensued, before we bundled back into the car again, following revised instructions. We arrived – and took in the sheer enormity of the estate. The long gravel drive swept past the first field, a huge white tent gracing the area in front of the house and containing the dining area, dance tent and catering section. Leading from the tent, around the side of the house, were fairground entertainments – the Bucking Bronco, Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting and Dodgems. Round the back was the car park – and the headquarters for the event management and security team. Jac and I parked, bristling with excitement.
Paul briefed the team at 1700 hours, informing us that the whole thing should be finished by 2am, as he had to get home to London and up to a Farmer’s Market for 6am, the poor soul. Having had a tour of the grounds, we helped with the flowers (don’t ask) and then headed to our lookout points. Jac, as usual, chose the tradesman’s entrance, with the job of ushering in the staff and bands. I, meanwhile, stood imposingly by the front gates signing off party arrivals, while the third man (and joint organiser of the night) stood by the tent, offering help to drunken revellers.
And that, essentially, was that. The job of a bouncer is not to enjoy the event, but to enforce security – and we were barely challenged the whole night. We rotated our points throughout the night, spying for the slightest breach of security. And save for a passing policeman and a jogger, I can proudly tell you we weren’t breached. The intercom radios provided entertainment (“I’ll take them round the back, over”) and the fireworks at midnight were so loud and spectacular my mother rang from our house miles away to congratulate us. But other than that the night passed peacefully and enjoyably. We left Paul and the rest of the team and drove our weary selves home at 1.30am, hungry – and chortling at the thought of Paul and his imminent Farmer’s Market. Even Event Management has its downsides…

A Job for Paul D

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Well dunn to Paul D for getting a position of great importance (Deputy Banqueting and Event Manager) at Dulwich College. He starts on the 3rd December, the lucky blighter…