Lisa, Pete, Denise, Pat, Aled, Natasha, Zoe and Chloe.
Exquisite, beautiful, special, wonderful, exceptional, magical, impressive and unforgettable.
So how do those 8 names… along with many more; help lead to those 8 words… along with many more.
This is The Castle Team and this is what they do on a wedding day.
Let’s set the scene
It’s a weekday, there has been a wedding the day before yours and your day is one sleep away, a castle ceremony looms.
This is how it works
I’ve never been married so I can only imagine how you would feel the night before your wedding day but I can imagine sleep doesn’t come all that easy. However at 5am when hopefully you are fast asleep – or tinkering on the edge of – that’s when the preparations for your wedding day begin.
Those preparations begin with John. It may be hailing, it may be thundering down with rain or may just be a quiet summer morning; but irrespective of the weather, John gets on his bike and cycles the journey to the Castle.
The wooden floor boards that you and your guests walk over as you enter the castle have been polished by John, the chairs have been put out for either your ceremony or wedding breakfast; the gravel has been raked, the fire built and the fireworks from the night before have been cleared away.
The confetti that makes for that magical group shot, yes, John has picked that up by hand too. Thank you John.
John isn’t the only one in the Castle at this time, there is Tom – the night porter.
Tom. Is he telling the truth? Who knows, I don’t! But he is the man with all the stories, but that’s where I leave this for now, we will come back to Tom.
The Kitchen team start to arrive, first the chef for breakfast for the wedding going out.
The housekeeping team begin to arrive too. For them it’s either the laundry or the house.
The laundry shift is just beginning – the press is heating up, machines are turned on and loaded up. Folding will shortly follow.
The staff in the house begin in the main reception areas. For them it is hoovering and polishing in the library, main hall, drawing room and cocktail bar. The team aim to have the rooms looking there finest for the arrival of your guests. Cushions are straightened and candles are refreshed. In the ballroom whilst part of the room is ready for breakfast the other part is being prepped for the incoming wedding, and by this I mean tying bows. It’s silver.
Pete, Brian and Becky are arriving for the day.
For Brian and Pete it’s the house whilst Becky is in the grounds.
The rest of the kitchen team are arriving. The delicious three course wedding breakfast that is enjoyed in the afternoon hasn’t come without time. Food prepped, piles of washing up got through, deliveries stacked away and a morning meeting with your Personal Wedding Manager – Aimee – to go through the details of your wedding day.
Aled, Micky and Dan – our kitchen porters – are handed pots, trays and pans. Potatoes are peeled. Lots of potatoes. Enjoy those roast potatoes.
More housekeepers join. The hoovering and polishing continues down to the floor below.
The Children’s Room
The Quiet Room
The Cellar Bar
It’s around 9am, and if you are staying with us you will be hearing a knock at the door. It’s breakfast and it is delivered by Aimee. You may be too nervous to eat, too busy getting ready or maybe even hungover from the night before (were you at The Clear Well the night before with Tally?)
Whilst you tuck into croissants and fresh fruits or make the attempt to; the housekeeping team are having their morning meeting. Linda – our head of housekeeping – is going through the details of your wedding day with her team, what do they need to achieve?
10am has come around and rooms are being turned around by the housekeeping team, beds stripped and re-made, bathrooms cleaned, floors hovered, furniture polished.
11.59am has ticked over into 12pm.
Your guests pull off the main road and yes Molly and Tiger our resident donkeys are there to greet them on your drive up to the Portcullis – they will also wake your guests the next morning as they eeyore (if you’re staying in our Coachman’s Lodge; your close.) Through the Portcullis they go – it’s likely you’ll be having a photo in the Portcullis later in the day.
Clearwell Castle stands before them. Your wedding venue. Your wedding day. Yours and their memories being created.
It is truly spectacular on first impression.
We are back at the polished wooden floor boards as your guests enter the Castle.
For them it’s either time to check in, relax in one of our reception rooms or time to get to the bar.
We are heading to the bar in this blog and a gin and tonic awaits us.
The Bar – stories are made, laughter ensues and the place where one too many drinks may well be consumed.
Family who rarely see one another reminisce about the past and take the chance to catch up.
‘Look how much you’ve grown you we’re so small when I last saw you!’
Elsewhere, probably also in the bar, new friendships are being made. Laughter. The bar sees a lot.
You walk back down the aisle, out of the ballroom, followed by family and friends. Aimee along with Nichola is there ready to guide you into the library.
I can only think and remain thinking that this must be a time of pure happiness, it’s the two of you, together, just you two, and on the other side of that door are those who share your happiness.
Stood at the front doors are two of the waiting team encouraging the exit of your guests out on to the front steps. It’s fresh outside, chilly, guests are reluctant, but it’s the group photo, so whether your guests are warmly wrapped up in a coat or braving the cold in a dress they stand outside waiting your arrival out to the front of the castle.
Clapping, Cheering, Confetti.
Behind the scenes the waiting team have been split.
Out front welcome drinks on silver trays are being brought out into the reception areas.
Canapes are plated onto slates in the kitchen by Tina ready to be served to you and your guests.
In the ballroom the team are turning the room around. Chairs are grouped and tables are rolled out of storage.
You’re back inside. Drinks are being enjoyed – you chose Dadnor and House Sparkling Wine as your welcome drinks – simple. Jugs of Elderflower are trayed up in the main hall.
The waiting team move between the reception rooms serving you and your guests.
You will be back outside at some point having photos or taking a walk around the grounds and you will probably notice the lines in the grass, straight, so very straight, impeccably straight. Pete – very good at mowing straight lines.
Back to the ballroom and linen is now on the table and cutlery is ready to be put out.
Nichola on starter cutlery
Molly on Mains cutlery
Debbie on Dessert cutlery
Welcome drinks are being finished off and out front Emily and Rosie are collecting glasses whilst Rebecca and Tom serve canapes.
To the bar.
Gary and Joanne are serving.
A Kir Royale
To the office.
Emma – our Sales Manager – sits behind her laptop, answering enquirires, taking incoming phone calls, sending out quotes and checking invoices.
Your wedding day is taking place downstairs whilst upstairs the start of someone elses dream wedding day is only just beginning. Emma, she is on the phone. Booking sheet in front of her. A booking. A red sticker on the board. Which sticker are you, what date is yours?
On a non-wedding day it is likely you will find Emma showing around potential future couples.
Red sticker. Date sold.
I, the writer of this blog, sit facing Emma.
“what date did they book?”
In walks Lesia, she has been in the office next door, she speaks with Ann. Back out she goes.
Back to the ballroom for a second time, glasses are nearly all out. Table decorations have been put on. You have photos on each table. I like this. Your story. Your time together. Shared.
The final few bits are added by the waiting team and Aimee –
Salt and pepper shakers are placed onto each table
Candles are lit
You check over the room
The screen is moved and the ballroom doors opened.
Seats are being taken.
In the top kitchen, glasses are being polished ready to take back to the bar, a group effort with the waiting team back together. It’s also time for the team to look at the plan for meal service.
Debbie and Nichola front a team each, splitting the room into two. From there each team member has their numbers to whom they will serve throughout the meal.
Starters are being plated.
The waiting team line up in the top kitchen. Those serving top table first.
Aimee opens the kitchen door and the team move through the main hall and then into the ballroom.
Positions 4, 5, 6.
On to the next table.
Once all the starters have been served it’s time to clear the kitchen down ready for the main course components to be unloaded for the dumbwaiter.
Meal service runs in a cycle of serving followed by clear down and this cycle is carried out three times.
Ann –The Venue Manager – suit jacket on, leaves the office and makes her way down to the top kitchen. It’s time to watch main course service. Ann stands by the kitchen door. Quiet – she’s observing. Before Ann makes her way back up to the office it’s time to say her goodbyes to the team for the day. To Nichola she will leave her classic line – “call me if you need me.” We all know this by now! But… she will say it next time also.
Across the courtyard the maintenance and grounds team are getting in to their cars and heading out through the portcullis. They are done for the day.
Back in the castle it’s dessert time.
As desserts are cleared the pouring of the toast wine is being finished and the flutes are being trayed ready to be taken into the ballroom and placed in front of you and your guests.
Speeches; a concoction of laughter (will you have a best man that will tell a story that may not be entirely appropriate?), tears and applause, the sound of listening (yes, that is silence) and the raising of glasses. This is what speeches bring, they evoke emotion and express love.
Have tissues ready!
Whilst the speeches are taking place for the waiting time it is time to have a clear up in the kitchen.
The Job List –
Sides and Surfaces
Tea and Coffee
Job list complete equals break time.
In the downstairs kitchen the clear up continues.
It’s time to stretch those legs and make your way into the drawing room for some tea and coffee or alternatively for some the evening is beginning and to the bar it is. Whilst you and your guests relax for the waiting team a big clear up of the ballroom begins. Glasses are taken for wash up, table decorations are removed ready to be boxed back up, linen is put into red bags ready to take to the laundry, and tables are re-laid ready for breakfast the next day.
The waiting team head down the back staircase, red laundry bags in hand, it’s home time.
The bar team; time to start the move the cellar bar. You’re cutting the cake. It’s a three tiered cake. Lemon, Chocolate and fruit cake (who even likes fruit cake?) Aimee will struggle to cut the fruit cake later in the evening.
Cellar bar opens.
The evening waiting team – Imogen and Janine – head to the cocktail bar. Drip trays and glasses are taken to go through the wash, the cleaning and polishing of the coffee machine, tap nozzles left to soak, surfaces wiped, stock put away and bins emptied.
You and your guest are dancing away. Dance moves – have you got them? No! A few drinks later though and this will be a yes!
Shots – will you regret this the next morning – probably actually wait; not probably; yes; 100%. Water – you should but you won’t.
Gary tries to make his way across the dance floor – not so easy.
The evening buffet is out and the fish and chips are going down a treat.
Another round of shots. That’s a headache right there!
The dumbwaiter is loaded up with plates, ready to be sent to the top kitchen.
The Evening Buffet is in.
Time to head to the bin shed. Black bags and cardboard boxes in hand or under the arm. Bottles aren’t tipped in to the bottle bin, just in case your guests in the Coachman’s Lodge have gone to bed. And well you will have an early wake up call from the donkeys so we don’t want to disturb you at night either.
Home time for Janine and Imogen. Yes, we are back to the Portcullis, we all go through it when it’s time to head home and the castle stands behind us. For the staff it won’t be long till we head back through it and see our workplace.
Clearwell Castle stands before them. Our workplace. Our second home. Yours and our memories being created.
Tom. He’s back. He walks through the cellar bar, picking up glasses as he makes his way to greet Aimee and the bar team.
His shift is only just beginning.
What type of night is Tom going to have?
It may be quiet if you have all gone to bed, only one or two guests may be left, or there may be many of you – if so, a busier night it is.
You take a seat by the sofa and Tom brings over a drink.
Downstairs the bar team are nearly done, glasses are collected and put through the washer, surfaces are wiped, drinks restocked, bin emptied and the floor moped.
Out the portcullis Gary and Joanne go.
For Aimee it is time to get some sleep, upstairs she goes to the staff bedroom. She will be back down for breakfast.
If it were Zoe, she wouldn’t be going to bed, she can’t help herself, she will continue to move around the middle floor tidying up. Tom knows.
5am – We are back to where we began but now we near the end of this blog as in a few hours you will be making your way down to breakfast. Will everyone make breakfast – you have a headache right? Remember those shots, yes you should have had water! Check out, suitcases are carried down the stairs and keys hang on the board ready for housekeeping to start the room turn around. Water – you want it now.
It’s time for the goodbyes.
Goodbyes to family and friends.
Goodbye to Aimee
Goodbye to the Castle
Goodbye Molly and Tiger
Goodbye to this blog
You come to the main road. The Clearwell Castle sign is proudly hanging from the tree. The English and Welsh flag can be seen in your rear view mirror.
But look forward.
Hello married life.