What’s it really like to work on a Royal Wedding?

With the World watching, today is the day Harry and Meghan tie the knot in the highly anticipated Royal Wedding.  We’ve been up-to-date on what time guests arrive to St George’s Chapel, we’ve seen the dress designer rumours, and we’re even placing bets on which pageboy looks the most bored during the official photographs!

But as Event Professionals, we’ll be watching from another angle too.  An event of this scale and of this much Global importance has got to be one of the top ‘bucket list’ events for many.  But once the post-wedding procession draws to a close, the crowds start leaving the streets of Windsor and the happy couple take their first steps into married life – the cameras also stop as the strictly private wedding reception allows Harry and Meghan to celebrate with those closest to them.

The reins are now firmly in the event team’s hands – to set the scene and deliver what must be one of the most high-pressure events of their professional lives… or is it?

I have been lucky enough to talk to some members of the event team from Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, back in 2011.  Whilst keeping their lips sealed on the (still!) strictly private details of the day and night, I asked for a little bit of an insight into what it really takes to work on a Royal Wedding Reception.

Weddings are pressured regardless of the fame of the bride and groom; it’s the most important day of their lives and you as an event manager must make it as seamless and stress free as possible for the couple and all involved.  Royal weddings are of course a private affair, and any mistakes or problems are not going to be publicly aired, much like a ‘normal’ wedding. 

The lead up

We were lucky to be part of a team of the best people in the industry at that time, which made the event delivery so much easier.  We were involved in months of meetings to plan every aspect and eventuality.  There were procedures in place to cover even the most unexpected scenarios but it meant we were fully prepared when the day came.

I would say the pressure leading up to the day was worse than on the day once we were in the palace.  Beforehand, we were all acutely aware of the media surrounding the event and that enhances the pressure we felt.  But once we were onsite our focus was unwavering and so we were less aware of the pressure.

On the day

I suppose what made the day unique was the awareness we all had for being in Buckingham Palace.  Nothing was rushed, there were a vast amount more hands on deck than any normal event or wedding and we had two whole days to get set up and briefed before the main event.

On the day it’s vital you stay calm.  You are in an environment where no problem is too big.  I always try and operate on the basis that ‘there is always a solution’ but in this instance we had the extensive resources of the royal family to solve any hurdle we came across.

Ultimately, despite the fame, fortune and global audience – a Royal Wedding is still a wedding; and still the most important day of the couple’s lives.  Whilst there is little room for error, anyone chosen and employed to work on an event of this scale has been chosen for a reason; whether it be their experience, professionalism, discreteness or can-do attitude.

We don’t all get to see ‘behind closed doors’ so it was important to me to write about a different side to the Royal Wedding.  Unfortunately, not from personal experience (although I’ll always have a Royal Wedding on my event bucket list!) but I’m lucky to have some fantastic friends in the industry willing to share their thoughts and how it felt to deliver what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting events in the world.

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