Ultimate Wedding Planner Celebrity Judges Announced

Eight aspiring wedding planners battle it out to become Ultimate Wedding Planner, as six brave couples agree to let them take control of the biggest day of their lives. Made by BBC Studios for BBC Two, Ultimate Wedding Planner comes to BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from Tuesday 8 August.

The planners are set to take over the design and guest experience for six real-life weddings. From table scaping, incredible floral centrepieces, hand crafted aisle runners, personalised set menus, and bespoke themed installation builds, to spectacular firework displays, acrobatics, choreographed dance troops or incredible light displays, each week the planners have just three days to make the couples’ wildest dreams a reality, supersizing their wedding day to transform it from ordinary to extraordinary.

With the couples’ ambitious wedding wish lists ranging from a 1950’s vintage Hollywood glamour wedding to a Caribbean infused autumnal fantasyland, a regal regency extravaganza, a sustainable farmyard festival, and a millionaire’s garden party, our eight wedding planner wannabes need to pull out all the stops to hit the couples’ brief, face the Truth Booth, and impress three demanding judges: hospitality expert Fred Sirieix, craft and business guru Sara Davies and wedding planner to the rich and famous, Raj Somaiya.

Will it be wedded bliss or a nuptial nightmare?

With exclusive mentoring from industry expert Raj up for grabs, and an ultimate prize package designed to help one of them launch their own wedding business, let the battle to be named Ultimate Wedding Planner commence!

Sara Davies

Sara Davies wearing a red floral wedding outfit, stood beside a classic car.

You’re a judge on Ultimate Wedding Planner! Tell us about the process and any highlights from the series.

Being a judge is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. My role is a combination of judge and presenter, so to start with it was really out of my comfort zone. Being on Dragons’ Den is a business meeting that gets filmed essentially and I’ve done a little bit of presenting previously, but this was a big step up for me. I really trusted the team who made the show and said on the first day of filming “look, this is my first time doing anything like this, so I want to get better every day and need your feedback.” I loved the personal development I went on through the show, as well as, of course, enjoying the weddings and seeing the planners grow.

So, it was a learning experience for you?

It was a huge learning experience for me. I wanted to be myself, but I also wanted to be the best version of myself, as well as delivering what the show needed. I felt a lot of pressure but also, I was looking at the wedding planners – who were nervous about being judged – I often wanted to give them a hug and tell them “it’s going to be okay”. I wanted to be a great mentor to them while also doing myself justice, so it was a lot of pressure.

Without spoilers, were there any moments that blew you away?

Yes! I think it was wedding two where we gave the planners feedback that we wanted more social media moments. We wanted the wedding guests to be so blown away by what they were seeing and I remember walking in after that feedback and they had really taken that on board. I was there with my phone out making Fred take selfies with me and I was so proud because they had created those big moments. The problem then was that every week they had to try and outdo the previous week. They were working as a team, while also trying to stand out as individuals. That created a really fascinating dynamic.

Were there any mishaps?

Fred kept saying the planners had to learn, so he’d point something out that could go wrong, but he wouldn’t labour the point too much and then, at the weddings, a couple of times I saw said thing unfolding and I’d have Fred on my shoulder going “I told you that wouldn’t work.” The show has a lot of drama.

How much did you have to intervene to help the planners?

Fred and I had a more hands off role. We’d come in the day before the wedding and give our assessment, but it was just our opinion. The planners didn’t have to take our feedback on board, whereas Raj was with them all the time and he had a much more intense experience. He’s the one that would be going, “this isn’t good enough, sort it out now”.

What did you enjoy most about being a judge?

What I hadn’t appreciated before this show is how you can make people a better version of themselves and contribute to their success. I look at the eight wedding planners now who have come out of this process, and they are all better wedding planners than they were going in and it’s lovely to know that I’ve contributed to that. Knowing that my feedback has helped them on their journey is a really big thing. The relationship I had with the planners was great and they were never frightened to show their emotions. It was sometimes stressful for them, and we sometimes had tears, but that’s when I’d give them a hug, sometimes they would just need that bit of support. I’ve been where they are, I was judged in a competition when I did Strictly Come Dancing, so I had such empathy for them.

What’s your favourite aspect of a wedding?

My favourite moment in any wedding is when the couple see each other for the first time at either end of the aisle. At that point, I’m looking at the emotion on their faces as they move towards each other. When I go to weddings in real life it’s always the highlight of the day for me.

Sum up Ultimate Wedding Planner in three words.

Ambitious. Creative. Intense.

Why should we watch Ultimate Wedding Planner?

What I love about this show is that if you’re planning a wedding, you’ll get so many tips and ideas, so you’re going to love it. Personally, I love good telly when it’s something I can watch with the whole family – my husband, my mum, grandma, with the kids – and this is that. All generations can sit down and enjoy something different. It’s got so much warmth and you can’t help falling in love with the couples every single week and want the planners to succeed. It’s a real rollercoaster that you’re on with them every week.

Fred Sirieix

What were your personal highlights from filming Ultimate Wedding Planner?

It was being a guest to these six wonderful weddings. They were all very different and showed the difference in ideas and how couples want to celebrate their union, and I really like that. Working with two pros like Raj and Sara as judges was great because we had the same vision and we experienced the same things, which allowed us to be a good team of judges. We could really trust and rely on each other when we needed it. Lastly, it was great to be working with all the wedding planners, to help and support them along the way. It was a great opportunity for them to learn from Sara, Raj and myself as experts and to get better at their job. It was also great, at the end, to judge who would be crowned the ultimate wedding planner.

Without spoilers, were there any moments that blew you away?

All of the weddings. At the end of the day, it was seeing the look on the faces of the couples and how happy they were. That blew me away every time.

Were there any mishaps?

From the very first wedding, when the planners said the wedding started at 11am and they were not ready in time. The planners’ sometimes inability to deliver on time could be frustrating.

How much did you have to intervene to help the planners?

There were a few interventions where I had to point out what was going wrong or I had to go behind the scenes and tell them they had forgotten something very important. At the end of the day, we had to remember that it was the wedding of a real-life couple, and we couldn’t disappoint them, so sometimes we did have to intervene. We still judged the planners on their performance and took what they had forgotten into consideration.

What’s your favourite aspect of a wedding?

My favourite aspect is the ceremony. I love the ceremony.

What did you enjoy most about being a judge?

I had to decide, along with the other judges, who was going to be the winner. And I think it’s important to have high standards, to have a clear vision, very very clear values and to make sure that the winner is a true professional who knows their job. Somebody that will represent the profession with pride and that people will look up to, that’s our responsibility. It’s a big responsibility because by choosing the winner we are setting the standard, and we are saying what good looks like.

Sum up Ultimate Wedding Planner in three words.

Fun, competition, tense.

Why should we watch Ultimate Wedding Planner?

It’s a very entertaining show. You can sit there with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and just watch it without worrying about the world. It’s an interesting insight into couples who want different weddings and for the planners, whether they are capable to deliver it. There’s a lot to it and you get to understand and know the planners’ characters very well. It does it all, it makes you laugh and it makes you cry. You start to root for the competitors and guess who you think will win.

Do you have any tips for viewers planning their wedding?

Get a good wedding planner!

Raj Somaiya

Raj Somaiya wearing a white shirt and cardigan, stood beside a large outdoor wedding canopy.

What was your personal highlight from filming Ultimate Wedding Planner?

My highlight really was seeing the planners developing their skills as we progressed through the series. At the start, they were new to the planning world, but by episode six they were real wedding planners. They’d really learnt, taken in our feedback and progressed in their learning and career development. Absolutely amazing!

Without spoilers, were there any moments that blew you away?

I don’t think we realised the wedding planners’ capabilities to begin with. Some of the planners came into the process with particular strengths like floristry or choreography, but as they went through this they developed other skills. Every week you could see them developing new skills. I think it’s the whole progression of them going from newcomers to genuine planners.

Were there any mishaps?

There were multiple mishaps but that’s to be expected and part of the experience. You’ll see that I was often anxious because at the end of the day I wanted to look after the couple, I wanted to make sure their wedding went well. Given the nature of the series, the planners were often overzealous and were overpromising but under delivering. In the moments when they were under delivering, I stepped in and put it right or I had to warn them that what they were trying to achieve wasn’t going to happen. It was often quite stressful.

How much did you have to intervene to keep the planners on track?

Sometimes I could foresee things were going to go wrong but I had to back off and let them make their own mistakes, even though I knew I would have to go and fix them later. Sometimes they fixed their errors themselves or, if not, I stepped in as the priority was always the couple getting married.

What’s your favourite aspect of a wedding?

My favourite aspect of a wedding – and its every wedding planner’s dream really – is when the couple say afterwards: “you know what, you totally smashed it, thank you so much, you’ve made our dream come true”. That eliminates all the stress, all the blood, sweat and tears, that’s the most euphoric thing about weddings as a planner.

What did you enjoy most about being a judge?

I really enjoyed being a judge. It was great to watch the planners grow. That was really enlightening for me personally. I could mentor them and watch them build new skills over the six weeks.

Sum up Ultimate Wedding Planner in three words.

It’s intense, chaotic, but very rewarding.

Why should people tune into Ultimate Wedding Planner?

We start off with a beautiful loved up couple and we end up with a fairy tale regardless of what happens in the middle. But the journey to that fairy tale is fascinating and very entertaining. It’s also giving wedding planners the recognition they deserve because we show what they really do behind the scenes. People attend weddings without realising what goes on in the background and all the heartache and stress. In this show, you see it. I tell you when you go to a wedding again you will respect the effort that has gone into making it happen.

What top tips do you have for someone who wants to get into wedding planning?

I think the most important thing about wanting to become a wedding planner or a supplier in the wedding industry is that you are passionate about what you do. When things go wrong or when things are not going according to plan, you really need to have that passion and drive to get through it. If you are weak at the knees and if you are going to crumble at the first hurdle, then really don’t take this job on. When you are so passionate about something, you’ll be able to fight through it. Get some experience, whether that’s volunteering with a florist, working with an operations manager or at a banquet at a hotel, get some work experience first.

What would your dream wedding destination to plan in?

My dream destinations are areas like Tulum, Mexico or Bali, Indonesia that have history and depth to the country. It is beautiful to see different parts of the world celebrated with a wedding.

Meet the Planners

Find out more about the eight aspiring wedding planners battling it out to become the Ultimate Wedding Planner here.

See also: ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ Singer Sinéad O’Connor Dead at 56

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