Watching movies such as 27 Dresses
As well as Jennifer Lopez’s blockbuster The Wedding Planner gave Debbie Armstrong the desire to plan and deliver weddings. That said, it wasn’t until Debbie decided to change career that the opportunity to fulfil her dream arose and join the award-winning Ellingham Hall team.
Whilst having an informal chat with Debbie our General Manager, David, recognised her warm and friendly personality, it was clear to him that Debbie was ambitious and passionate – all attributes that David knew would be essential in becoming a successful wedding and events planner. Little did he know that later that year the stars would align, and Ellingham Hall would be looking to recruit a new wedding and events co-ordinator, which Debbie later became the successful applicant of. Having no hands-on experience in the world of weddings it was Debbie’s sparkling personality, kindness and transferable skills from previous employment that made her stand out.
During Debbie’s first year with Ellingham Hall, she really earned her stripes by planning and part delivering the extensive backlog of weddings that were sadly not able to take place during the pandemic. Under tremendous pressure Debbie had to plan multiple weddings side by side, all the while making each couple feel special. It was Debbie’s calm approach and excellent customer service skills that gained her a promotion, awarding her the title of Head of Weddings and Events.
With Debbie’s new role and Ellingham Hall winning the title of ‘Events team of the year’, awarded at the regional final of The Wedding Industry Awards, we thought we’d catch up with Debbie and see how she’s enjoying being the real-life Mary Fiore, planning and delivering bespoke weddings at our exclusive Northumberland Wedding Venue.
What did you do before joining Ellingham Hall?
I am a trained nurse but was working in retail when I was chatting to my neighbour, David, who is General Manager, about a career change. When I asked him what he did, I told him it was a dream of mine to plan weddings as I’d been inspired by movies, like The Wedding Planner. It isn’t quite the same as what you see on screen, of course. It is a real privilege to help couples plan and deliver their dream wedding.
Any standout moments?
Well, there was one time when a florist forgot the confetti and suddenly realised before the ceremony. We pulled out all the stops and managed to contact our admin assistant, Wendy, who had some. It arrived about three minutes before the couple left the Ceremony Room. The bride was so grateful because it was important to her. It was a lovely photograph. One bride was in the process of getting ready, and when I popped into the suite to check everything was OK, she jumped up and gave me a huge hug because she was so thrilled with everything!
What have you learned so far?
It’s nice to make people feel good and make them happy. It maybe just my job, but it’s important because their wedding memory will be with them forever. It’s more than just a job, and it’s why I even take work home because I want every couple to know that every detail is as important to us as it is to them.