Married To The Job | We Chat With A Wedding Planner

One man who knows a thing or two about getting spliced is wedding planner Mark Niemierko. He talks to Pride Life about tying the knot in style.

An unerring knack fortaste and diplomacy have placed Mark Niemierko, and his namesake company, at the top table when it comes to planning the big day for gay and straight couples alike. So how does he go about making sure his clients get hitched without a hitch?

When and why did you get into the wedding planning business in the first place?

It’s coming up to five years. I worked in film and TV production previously, doing PR and events. I really enjoyed the events side and decided to look at what opportunities were out there. I’d never thought of weddings before. They’d always seemed a bit old-fashioned and samey, but one day the idea struck me. From then on I really researched the subject. I looked at the US market, which is totally different to ours, particularly in such big cities as New York and LA, where nobody would get married without a wedding planner. Fortunately, the competition over here wasn’t great, hence our success in such a short space of time.

What constitutes a typical working day for you?

There are many aspects. One of my clients recently pointed out what a brilliant job I’ve got, and I had to agree. We’d been talking things through, tasting cakes, chatting about different types of vintage car and then discussing hair and make-up. The variety also comes from the range of people I encounter. It sounds clichéd, but every couple is different. Some are indecisive, some really know what they want.

Do you plan many Civil Partnerships and how do your gay clients differ from your straight ones?

I’ve organised a few in my time, but the thing with Civil Partnerships is that, naturally, when they first came in they were hugely popular, because there were a lot of couples who’d been waiting years to “get hitched”. But since then, the rate has died down. It’s a generalisation, but gay people are renowned for their good taste. Many gay men live lives where they go to nice restaurants, they know where to shop and so on, whereas straight men often really appreciate my advice.

Do you get many bizarre requests from clients?

I’ve had a few odd ones, usually in the initial meeting. I recently had one from a woman who was marrying a South African and wanted to arrive on a zebra.

I pointed out that she’d be wearing a big dress and that I wasn’t too sure how zebras felt about being ridden! But at the end of the day, a wedding should be a reflection of the couple. I’m really there to advise.

How would you go about celebrating your own Civil Partnership?

I know that I’d be the worst Bridezilla ever, so I guess I’d plan it myself. I’d do something very small earlier in the day, a lunch for perhaps about 20 people, and then have a mad party in the evening. My ideal place for the ceremony would be Number Sixteen – a small hotel in South Kensington – but I’m undecided as to just where I’d have the party.

What’s the secret to planning a successful do?

Firstly, remember that your planning stage is also your engagement, which you’ll never have again, so enjoy it. Don’t fret about all the details. When I first meet a couple, I don’t ask them loads of questions, I just want to know about the location they’d like, numbers of guests and a date. Also, remember that your guests are crucial, so look after them. If you have the most amazing flower display ever, but people have to wait 20 minutes for a glass of champagne, they won’t be impressed. If they’re having a good time, that creates a great atmosphere, a great event and a memorable day.

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