Ultimate Wedding Planner



Voiceover: Scott Noble


Judges: Sara Davies, Fred Sirieix, Raj Somaiya


BBC Two, 8 August to 12 September 2023 (6 episodes in 1 series)


What if the best day of your life was organised by eight people who hate each other? That's the challenge on Ultimate Wedding Planner, as eight people starting out in the wedding planning business try to make weddings special.

Before we meet them, the bride and/or groom have arranged many of the details - the date, the venue, outfits, cake. Many of the other details are just a wishlist. The couple on the opening episode said, "We want a wedding set at an airport. Lots of airport ideas, themes, planes and gyrocopters and gliders and that kind of thing. Oh, and we want it in a floral wonderland." Later episodes went for a farm, a rural retreat, and a Victorian hinterland.

The contestants: all worked hard.

The task is set, the budget is set (£10,000 for the whole project), and the clock is ticking. Just three days until the wedding is to happen, so chocks away and do something!

The planners are split into two teams. Half of them do the "design" elements – the tables, the décor, where to put the lights, how to jazz up an aircraft hangar with a supersonic aeroplane already in it. The other half do the "experience" – organise the welcome, serve the drinks, make sure the car park is clear for the fireworks. Someone is appointed head planner, this appears to be an honorary title and doesn't carry any extra reward or jeopardy. The players must work together as a team, but they'll be judged individually.

Much of the episode is taken up by fuss and frenzy. Build a flower arch yourself! Arrange the car park yourself! Set the table yourself! It's like watching an episode of Challenge Anneka, we're amazed at the contestants' boundless energy - and exhausted just watching them.

The judges: Raj Somaiya, Sara Davies, Fred Sirieix.

The judges offer a very little help: disguised as criticism, Sara Davies, Fred Sirieix, and Raj Somaiya give little nuggets of advice to improve the day. During the wedding, Raj will lurk in the background, Sara and Fred will "enjoy" the wedding as guests.

Eventually, we get to the big day. People arrive, rings are exchanged, drinks are drunk, flowers are admired, and fireworks may go off if the car park's been cleared.

Here comes the groom's party.

Feedback is gathered from a "Truth Booth", a video camera in a box, and slotted in through the show where it helps to make the editorial point. Ultimate Wedding Planner appears to be fairly edited, what happened during preparation and on the day is shown on screen.

And the judges' decisions are credible. They're delivered with a little faff and ceremony - a gold invitation to the next wedding for the best planner, blank invites for the people who might leave, and a chance for each to plead their cases to come back next week.

Ultimate Wedding Planner is an elimination show, except it doesn't do normal eliminations. We'd expect one person to go each week until three are left for the final - but no! One withdrew in the opening week, another was sent packing next time. No-one went in week three, two were removed in week four, and another pair go after that. Two planners went head-to-head in the final, when the budget was doubled, eliminated contestants came back to lend a hand, and nothing was planned - not even the venue.

Blimey, that's a big one!

From the guests' reactions, we got the sense that none of this really matters. Guests have a great time whatever happens: they're happy for the celebrating couple, a modicum of decoration adds to the ambience but little of what the planners do is essential.

And we got the sense that this isn't wedding planning so much as wedding construction. A planner will work with other people to get the flowers right, work on the design, do the table arrangements, build and wrap the favours. Their talents aren't needed to marshall traffic, or to actually build the arch.

Nevertheless, Ultimate Wedding Planner brings out the little dramas that mean everything in the moment and nothing in the long run. It's fun and disposable and quite heart-warming.


Chantelle Walsh

Theme music

John Lemke


The show's working title was Master of Ceremonies.

Web links

BBC programme page

See also

Weaver's Week review


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