Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at an event? Ever wondered about who creates those incredible set ups at weddings and parties? Well, we’re about to lift the lid on how the magic happens! We asked Jenny Atkinson and Mya Linfield, Event Managers at the magnificent Sefton Park Palm House, to tell us all!
A day in the life of an Event Manager
How does your day start?
Jenny: Event days start around 7.30am, with a hot shower and a lot of hot coffee! I need to start my day with a boost as they are pretty long.
Mya: My alarm goes off at 7.30am (plus 1 or 2 snooze button hits!) – I’m blessed that I live right on Sefton Park so I go for quick run to get the blood pumping & my head in the game. This is usually followed by some shower karaoke & a strong coffee.
What time do you start work on the day of the wedding?
Jenny: I’ll get to Sefton Park Palm House around 9.30am. I’m pretty local so it’s not a long journey which is good. I like to get on site to check the orders and begin the kitchen set up, before our lovely staffing team & chefs arrive on site at 10am to begin all the setting up.
Mya: Between 9am & 10am depending on how much there is to do & our start time. I’m one of those people that needs to be ready two hours before you actually need to be ready, so the earlier we’re all set the better in my books! We build everything in the morning, from kitchens to centrepieces, it’s important to get cracking & give ourselves the time to ensure everything is perfect.
How many weddings do you do each week?
Mya: It really depends. Couples come to The Palm House for more than just that standard ‘June wedding’, it has so much to offer year round we always have weddings going on. We have some weeks where we just have the one & we have some weeks where we have three or four. Myself & Jen spend a lot of time planning out who takes care of which couple so we can ensure we always have enough time to give our couples the attention they deserve in those really busy weeks. It goes back again to having that personal relationships with your couples, we work hard & can be really busy at times but loving your couples & really wanting the best day possible for them is such a driver, once you’re there & everyone’s having a great time it barely feels like work.
Jenny: Our busy months are from March – October and every month is different. Every month has a different perk at The Palm House from plants in bloom to the perfect weather! A perfect week for us is 2-3 weddings a week so we can offer our full time & attention to every couple.
At the Palm House we do have lots of opportunities to really get to know our couples. We look after you from the initial enquiry (usually approx. 18 months prior) all the way through to being there with you throughout the day. We have plenty of opportunities to get to know one another but my favourite are the planning meetings and the tastings, help around 4-6 months prior to your day, where we can really get to know one another. We are always just on the end of a phone call or an email for any little question you may have! For me, it is important that we build that friendship as well as a professional relationship. As a couple, you place a lot of trust in us to run your day perfectly so we require your trust to allow that to happen and to help us make it the day you have been dreaming of.
How does the day flow? What happens first?
Jenny: On the wedding day itself, we start from scratch at The Palm House so we get the ball rolling as soon as we step in the venue- we have kitchens to build, bars to set up & stock, tables to set up & make beautiful. A morning at The Palm House is non-stop but we have the best team that delivers and just cracks on! As soon as we are all set & the team are briefed and dressed then we sit down to make sure we are all well fed for the day to begin for our couples! We have the most fantastic team that works along side us at The Palm House. For me personally, they are mine & Mya’s pride and joy!
Mya: Every event morning we will do a full briefing running through the schedule, the specifics of the day, the style of service we are going for, giving each member their personal jobs for the day etc. We will always give them little tests about the menu, particular events the couple have chosen to personalise their day & make sure they fully understand the running of the day. We will also give them a quick history of the couple & their story so everyone on site is invested in the day.
We then crack on! As everything at The Palm House is essentially ‘pop up’ we rely on a strong team to get everything done. We have learnt who in the team is the best at table setting, who grandparents simply adore being served by, who can make the best Aperol Spritz & so have they, they have their strengths & they have their jobs, so they pretty much just crack on under our ever so slightly anal watchful eye!
We are so incredibly blessed with the loyalty & quality of staff we have, in regards to both their professionalism & just who they are as people. I have managed many a hospitality based team & I have never been so proud of a team. I have also never received such high & constant praises for a team. They are all local, whether by birth or choice & they all love the Palm House!
Jenny: Before the guests arrive at every wedding we deliver a briefing and dress rehearsal so they are all aware of the specific details of your day, from menus to how I require them to serve the bread! We practice how we deliver service (they are very good at it and we receive such amazing feedback about it) – they do really make the day special and we always get such kind words about them all.
Once everyone arrives, the fabulous venue team seat the guests ready for the ceremony delivered from the registrars. When our lovely couples arrive we check they are ready, help with any final touches before they say their I DOS!
We like to take the biodegradable confetti photos as soon as the ceremony has finished outside and then the magic begins! We serve drinks, canapes and you can go take all of those photos! Whilst this is all going on and your guests are being taken care of, members of the team and transforming the main room ready for dinner!
We then invite your guests to take their seats and enjoy a beautifully prepared 3 course dinner from our brilliant chefs team! The Dine team take care of your guests from serving their wine to delivering a first class dinner service. We like to finish dinner with tea & coffee and the speeches. Once the speeches are complete we invite your guests to have a comfort break in the bar area, great as it gets everyone up & moving again! In that time, the bar is flowing and we are resetting the room, making a nice big dance floor and assisting your evening entertainment’s set up!
As soon as everyone is ready, we are back in the main room, cutting your cake & doing your first dance. Then the night is yours to enjoy, dance & celebrate!
Once the night has finished, all you have to think about is heading off in your car after the most memorable day. The Dine team step in again and complete all the cleaning and break down so that when the venue opens in the morning it is perfect for the public & community events!
What’s the most unusual thing you have seen at a wedding?
Jenny: We had some special visitors at a wedding this year, 2 reindeers! They were quite the talking point and guests enjoyed getting their shots with them! I am a massive animal fan so if you needed my that night you would have found me by the reindeers!
Have you worked with any celebrities? Can you name them?
Jenny: A couple at The Palm House! Several years ago I worked with my colleague Matt on a special Cheshire Housewife wedding with an amazing Persian twist (you can even see Matt featured in the filming!) I was running the kitchen on that day so worked closely along side the chefs team to ensure the food was delivered efficiently!
This year I had the pleasure of working with Aston & Sarah Merrygold. We had such a great time with the planning and developing the menu for their day! Their favourite cuisine is Thai food so we really played on that idea! They had some amazing ideas so it really was perfect on the day seeing everything pull together!
Mya: I have a few this year that you would know & you might see us pop up in Vogue but that would be telling…
How long have you been working in events? How did you get in to the job?
Jenny: I have been on the events team with Dine for just over 4 years. I have a long history in the hospitality industry from managing hotels, pubs and restaurants. I have a past with Dine as I used to manage the Garden Room café in Leeds a few years back. I was actually working in Italy when I received a phone call from a colleague at Dine telling me about new opportunities at The Palm House, I already knew of the venue and it was a no brainer for me! 2 weeks later I was back in the UK and a day after that, back with the Dine family. I haven’t looked back since & The Palm House is by far the best venue to work out of (obviously I am biased).
Mya: I’ve been in the hospitality & events sector for the last 12 years. It’s where my heart lies, it’s what I’m good at & there will be no changing it.
I’m incredibly lucky that my journey in hospitality has taken me all over the world & I’ve been involved in so many aspects of it, I’ve managed events in Cambodia, competed in cocktail competitions in Canada, run four floor venues in Australia, worked in underground cocktail bars & managed in five star hotels. The industry really gets my heart beat up.
I came to Dine when I first moved to Liverpool. Living right next to the Palm House I had already fallen in love with the venue & then when the opportunity with Dine came along I knew it was the perfect job in the perfect place & now here we are…
Are there any trends that have changed since you’ve been running events?
Jenny: I actually find at the Palm House we don’t get too many typical trends. As the venue and space is so unique we find we get so many unique and individual couples with different ideas and themes which keeps everything exciting for us! A couple of years ago I would have said that bohemian ‘games of thrones’ style dresses were defiantly a trend, but more recently we see more traditional & classic dresses!
Mya: I think in the last year we have certainly seen a rise in bright, clashing colours – the pinks, reds & oranges. People are so much bolder with colour schemes now, which I love! I feel that people are just doing what they actually want more & having weddings less restricted by tradition. We have bridesmen, groomswomen, friends walking brides down the aisle, pant suit dresses, donut wedding cakes, round top tables, techno first dances… The new trend is to having the wedding you actually want & I’m all for it.
Which bits of your job do you enjoy most? Which bits are harder?
Jenny: Those that know me will know, I’m a very logistics & operational person. I love planning the details, the kitchens, the service etc all of the details that really make your wedding stand out. I’ve seen so many different ideas come to life, and I am honest if I don’t think they are logistically going to work smoothly and will offer a better alternative!
The challenges of the job of course can be the hours in our peak season. It’s true in the events world, you really do need to love what you do! The great thing at The Palm House is there are 2 event managers, which means we can really support one another and make sure we get enough sleep to deliver all of the weddings!
Mya: My favourite part of my job is by far the wedding day. I love watching everybody have an amazing time. It makes all of the ‘back of house’ admin hours that go into each event so worth it. I love seeing the individuality of every wedding come to life. I’m definitely a people person & my job allows me to spend my days amongst people at their happiest, enjoying great music, great food & having a great time. That’s pretty special if you ask me.
I’d be wrong to not mention Menu Tastings too. What a perk. It’s such a great opportunity to really get to know the couple & get to know the food. I would never recommend something falsely so getting the opportunity to try all of our fantastic food really benefits me & the couples. I can speak truthfully about the dishes because I’ve had them!
The harder bits of the job are probably just the hours, every event is roughly 15hours on your feet & tens of hours of admin, in the peak months that certainly adds up. You truly wouldn’t be in events if you didn’t love it.
What time do you leave?
Jenny: With guests departing at 12pm, we aim to complete the full close down and break down as well as a venue clean within an hour. It’s a challenge but you will just see our team put their heads down and step it up a gear to make sure its done and left just how we found it.
What do you on your time off?
Jenny: Sundays are my favourite! I get to see family and friends (as well as catch up on a little sleep of course!) I love being outdoors so usually on my time off I am up on the family farm helping out or you can even find me in the alps hitting the slopes!
Mya: It pretty consistently involves a good ole needed lie in, a coffee grab on Lark Lane, a lazy walk in the park with my Mr, a Netflix sofa afternoon & then, as I really am a drinks & foodie at heart you will usually find me in one of Liverpool’s many amazing restaurants or bars eating too much & having an Old Fashioned night cap.