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How to do a festive party with Ultimate Wedding Planner Toby

Toby adds finishing touches to a wedding decor in BBC Two's Ultimate Wedding Planner. Photo: BBCS Production,Kieron McCarron
Toby adds finishing touches to a wedding decor in BBC Two's Ultimate Wedding Planner. Photo: BBCS Production,Kieron McCarron

Fresh from his BBC reality TV appearance, Ultimate Wedding Planner finalist Toby turns his thoughts to planning the perfect festive party

The former professional dancer was on BBC Two’s, Ultimate Wedding Planner. He and seven fellow contestants were vying for the title, facing a process of elimination each week, while working together in teams to create real life weddings for various couples.

Toby made it to the final two, narrowly missing out to ‘ultimate’ winner Chantelle Walsh after their regency themed wedding final test.

Toby came over as confident and fun loving, and clearly multi-skilled. He’d often end up as master of ceremonies for the weddings. He laughs about it now but says in reality the show was ‘very stressful’ - they only had three days to plan each wedding.

Great British Life: Toby at work on a wedding proposal. Photo: The House of TobyToby at work on a wedding proposal. Photo: The House of Toby

‘The most difficult thing was absolutely the lack of time, we were running around like crazy! We never had a project that came off the way we planned it. We just had to keep calm and carry on.’

The show was, he adds, ‘a test of how much damage control you can do.’

Toby lives in London and has his own events company, The House of Toby, and he also works freelance for The Proposers, a company which arranges high end weddings.

He’s just returned from a trip to Burgh Island, for the filming of a new documentary series for Channel 4 involving The Proposers. Although he’d never previously been to the iconic hotel, his roots are very firmly in Devon.

Great British Life: Toby and fellow contestant Chantelle with the Ultimate Wedding Planner judges Raj Somaiya, Sara Davies and Fred Sirieix. Photo: BBC Studios,Brian McGovernToby and fellow contestant Chantelle with the Ultimate Wedding Planner judges Raj Somaiya, Sara Davies and Fred Sirieix. Photo: BBC Studios,Brian McGovern

He comes down regularly to see his family; mum and dad, Steve and Lesley Hawker run Woodlands guesthouse in Lynton and his sister Natalie lives nearby.

It was when staying with his parents for several months towards the end of the Covid time that he made his big career move, deciding to ‘throw in the towel’ on his dancing career. Passionate about dance since a child, he’d gone on to perform in nearly 100 countries, going from Warner Brothers film sets and Disney stages to casinos in Macau and luxury six-star cruise liners.

But when the pandemic put a halt to work, he had time to seriously consider his event planning dream. It made sense in many ways, as well as having built up contacts around the world in the entertainment industry, he’d worked in hospitality, was silver service trained, he could make props and even rustle up a costume, if needs be.

For Toby, being a wedding and events planner is ‘an accumulation of all I love. It’s social, I work with people all over the world, and it’s very creative’.

Great British Life: Toby at work on decorations for a wedding in Ultimate Wedding Planner. Photo: BBCS Production TeamToby at work on decorations for a wedding in Ultimate Wedding Planner. Photo: BBCS Production Team

Having managed glamorous events at Tower Bridge and The Shard, it’s surprising to hear that he’s a great believer in ‘making do’, creating very low budget party settings.

As anyone who watched Ultimate Wedding Planner will know, he likes nothing more than foraging in the wilds for inspiration.

‘Bringing the natural element into a banquet is so much nicer than having things like metal props and crystal this and that. It’s much nicer to have a table runner of natural foliage.

‘I do love the whole luxury thing, but I also love just getting my hands dirty and going foraging, being out in the woods and creating stuff to make sustainable weddings. Those are so good to do in Devon and it’s what people want.

As for Christmas, ‘I’m usually the one to suggest things,’ says Toby.

Great British Life: Toby uses upside down glasses as candle holders at a family Christmas. Photo: The House of TobyToby uses upside down glasses as candle holders at a family Christmas. Photo: The House of Toby

‘This year it’s just me mum and dad, so rather than dwell on the fact we’re not all together. We’ll do something that’s different, and we create a memory.

‘I’m going to set up a trestle table on the beach and we’ll splash out on a boozy hamper with champagne. Then the three of us will sit and have a banquet on the beach.

‘Lynmouth is so stunning compared to the rest of the country, so let’s use the fact we’ve got the beach. We’ll bring lots of blankets and LED candles, so they won’t blow out!

‘It’s a really simple concept, and this kind of exciting day is actually much cheaper, and with no cooking and stressing.

‘I can’t wait for Christmas this year!’

thehouseoftoby.com

Great British Life: Toby is used to organising glamorous events and parties. Photo: The House of TobyToby is used to organising glamorous events and parties. Photo: The House of Toby



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