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‘Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience’ in The Western Mail

Oh So Perfect – In The Press

We were delighted – DELIGHTED! – with the write up in the Western Mail weekend pages last Saturday, featuring interviews with myself, my gorgeous couple Sarah and Gareth, and Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert in anticipation of Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience series 4 episode 1 – Wedding Planner, which will be on BBC1 Wales this Wednesday 5th June at 10:35pm

In case you missed it, here are images of the 4 page spread in the Western Mail. The full article can be read online at: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/film-tv/meet-couple-who-rhod-gilbert-4043863 or scroll down to read it here on our blog….

Samantha Imbimbo - Western Mail

Samantha Imbimbo - Western Mail

Planning your big day is stressful enough – but can you imagine letting a stand-up comedian organise your wedding? Kirstie McCrum met the couple who did just that…

Men in morning suits, the bridal march on the organ, a radiant woman in a white dress… and a well-known funny man?

There are plenty of ideas we associate with weddings, but generally the latter isn’t on the list when it comes to our own special day. Not so for one Welsh couple, who agreed to have their wedding planned by Rhod Gilbert.

The Rhod Gilbert: Work Experience series on BBC Wales has followed the Carmarthen comic into some pretty hilarious situations – from dressing in drag for a stage show to inking customers as a tattoo artist.

But the new series starting this week has seen Rhod face some of his toughest challenges yet.

And planning the wedding of Sarah and Gareth Griffiths from Llanharan was pretty high on the list. But how did he do? Better than you may think…

The couple’s story

Far from being a showbiz aficionado, Gareth Griffiths works an accountant. The 33-year-old met recruitment consultant Sarah Borland, 28, in November 2007 and they were engaged in April 2011.

Little did they both know then that there would be a touch of the comic to their wedding day on April 6 this year.

Working alongside wedding planner Samantha Imbimbo of Oh So Perfect Weddings, they were well on their way to arranging their perfect day when Samantha came up with a surprise request.

Gareth explains: “It was earlier this year when Rhod was first mentioned as a wedding planner, and it was a bit scary when Samantha asked us about it. We’re not really outgoing people in terms of being filmed on camera, but we decided it was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.

“We’re both from quite reserved families, so it was a bit of a shock for everyone. We had seen Rhod’s Work Experience series, so we knew what to expect and what sort of bloke he was. There were a lot of discussions because it was a wedding, not following a binman, not dressing up as a drag artist. It was a big day for us.

“At the start, we had visions that they might drop a cake accidentally on the day and then have a replica ready, that was one of our concerns, whether they were going to stage something, but they didn’t, thank goodness.

“I liked Rhod as a comedian; I remember seeing him at the Apollo and breaking up in stitches at his routine there, so after watching a couple of episodes from Work Experience we kind of knew what to expect.”

Planning a Hollywood and movie-themed wedding, the couple admit they turned to Samantha for creative guidance in the early stages but by the time Rhod came along to join the Oh So Perfect team, there was still room for surprises.

Gareth and Sarah Griffiths on their wedding day
Gareth and Sarah Griffiths on their wedding day -Paul and Jacs Photography

Sarah says they trusted Samantha not to let their special day go awry.

“We had a great close relationship with Samantha and we trusted her. She does an excellent job and her main priority was making sure that the wedding was going to go as smoothly as possible and, with her involved in the whole process as well, we knew nothing was going to go wrong,” she adds.

Following a meeting with Rhod, the family went to a wedding fair in the comic’s native Carmarthen to see if there were any last-minute additions that they might want to add to proceedings.  As well as losing himself up a mannequin’s dress and posing for photographs with passing fans, Rhod was given careful instructions on dos and don’ts.

“I’m really not a big fan of surprises,” Sarah admits. “But the one element from the wedding fair for me was discussing a surprise I wanted to prepare for Gareth with Rhod. It was nice to see what Rhod thought should be included in the wedding and for us to give him a little bit of guidance.”

Thanks to his personal aversion to weddings, Rhod wasn’t a natural at the pomp and ceremony, but he soon got into the swing of it all, even turning up in a van branded with his new business.

“When he turned up in a van saying ‘Give a S*** Weddings’ we were a bit surprised! He even had business cards – we’ve got one in our keepsake box saying ‘Give a S*** Weddings: Because we care’. But he didn’t show up everywhere with the big sign, he was very discreet about it,” Gareth laughs.

Giving Rhod free rein over some of the organisation meant that there were surprises on the day, but Sarah says they were of the very best kind.

“Rhod organised a big American car to take us from the wedding to Miskin Manor (in Pontyclun) for the reception and a golf caddy cake for Gareth from me and they were brilliant surprises. The day was just so perfect, and Rhod’s input just enhanced what we already wanted.”

Rhod Gilbert at Gareth and Samantha's wedding
Rhod Gilbert at Gareth and Sarah’s wedding – Paul and Jacs Photography

Wedding planner Samantha also put Rhod in charge of organising movie-themed props for the day but he went the extra mile when he used his celebrity clout to sort one of the biggest surprises – a good luck wedding message from bona fide Hollywood star Chris O’Dowd.

Sarah says: “Seeing Chris O’Dowd was amazing. My face as I realised what’s happening was hilarious – it’s something that we would never have been able to do. He’s such a big star and we had movie-themed tables at the wedding, one of which was Bridesmaids which he stars in, so it brought everything together.”

As for the final word on Rhod’s skills, both bride and groom were delighted with the results and definitely had a day to remember. So is it time for Rhod to take the wedding planning full-time? Sarah gives a cautious stamp of approval.

“I’d say that it was brilliant that Rhod showed he cared about the wedding, but I think he probably did as well as he did under Samantha’s expertise, so I’d recommend him as a wedding planner under guidance – as long as he has someone to rein him in!”

The planner’s story

It’s not every day you have a camera crew following you at work, and it’s even less likely you’ve ever been shadowed by a comedian.

But Samantha Imbimbo, who launched Oh So Perfect Weddings in July 2011, took it all in her stride when she was approached by the Work Experience team.

“There are other couples I’ve worked with where I would know immediately that they wouldn’t be up for it at all, I wouldn’t have even broached the subject. But with Sarah and Gareth, they wanted a fun wedding anyway – we had a good relationship, and I thought they would be willing; luckily they were.”

Meeting Rhod for the first time at ‘wedding planner school’, Samantha got both barrels of Rhod’s matrimonial misgivings.

“He was certainly not anti-marriage, but he just didn’t see the point of weddings. His attitude was very much ‘why?’, because weddings are expensive today and I think he just saw it as a lot of money being spent for extravagance when it wasn’t really needed. You could go round the world for the amount of money it costs for the average wedding, and I think he just couldn’t get that idea out of his head.”

Asking the couple if they wanted Rhod to be their specialist wedding co-ordinator may have been the easy part, but Samantha admits that the first meeting between the bride and groom to be – and the bride’s family – was a slow starter.

“The whole family were quite nervous before they met Rhod. I have done a few things for television before so I felt quite comfortable with the cameras, but for them it was completely new and I think they were worried about what to expect from him as well.

“When I first introduced them, I could see their nerves and I think they found it very hard to try to relax and not feel like it was all very staged in a way. At the wedding fair, it was a much more natural environment for them to meet with him and discuss their feelings about the wedding and they seemed to click a lot better.”

Thanks to Rhod’s natural charm, the couple were delighted to join him viewing the weird and wonderful options available at the wedding fair, and Samantha says that all possible doubts were expunged from their minds.

“From the start I said to them that it was wedding first and Rhod Gilbert second and they knew that, they knew if they had a problem they only had to let me know, but they were okay – they saw that he was a comedian and he had a laugh, but they knew I wasn’t walking out on the day for them.”

Wedding planner Samantha Imbimbo
Wedding planner Samantha Imbimbo – Oh So Perfect 

Once he got to grips with the planning, the event and the romance of the day, Rhod decided to go all out and brand his own tongue-in-cheek wedding service, a move that had Samantha in stitches.

“I thought it was hilarious when he set up ‘Give a S*** Weddings’. I have a sense of humour and could understand where he was coming from, and I thought it was quite funny.

“I did say that I wanted to check with the couple that they were aware that the van wasn’t just going to turn up on the day of their wedding with all these relatives walking past in shock. But it was just for television and I thought it was really funny – it made sense, it was how he felt.”

After all of that, trusting Rhod with organising Hollywood props, the wedding car and even a band to play the couple’s entrance music may have seemed slightly foolhardy, but

Samantha says that she never doubted the comic.

“The whole way through, although Rhod was making a television programme and he was being the comedian and having fun, I knew deep down that he was taking the wedding part of it seriously.

“He knew after everything else that it was Sarah and Gareth’s big day and he didn’t want to mess it up for them, so I knew that he wouldn’t lose sight of that.”

As well as helping the day go with a swing, there was even a hint that Rhod had changed his attitude to the whole idea of nuptials.

“My proudest moment was that he actually cried during the speeches – he genuinely had a tear in his eye when Sarah was thanking her mum and dad. As a wedding planner, there’s always one moment in the day when you get caught in the emotion.

“I think to see him feel that as well, bearing in mind he’d come in with such an attitude of  ‘what’s the point of all this?’ just made me think that he’d got it – he’d bonded with the couple, he’d picked up on the emotions on the day and he genuinely cared enough about it all.

“I don’t think I would ever quite trust Rhod to plan a whole wedding because after all of it he still does the whole ‘what’s the point?’ thing. Even on the day when we were setting the room up, he was saying, ‘chair covers, what’s the point of these?’, so I’m not sure I would trust him to do one on his own.

“But that said, he was a massive help on the day and took the whole thing seriously. He was the one running round when the cameras weren’t rolling giving me a hand, so I would have him back for that. He did a great job.”

Rhod’s story

From the outset, Rhod’s position is clear – he doesn’t ‘get’ weddings.

In fact, of all the Work Experience challenges that the 44-year-old comedian has faced over the four series of the BBC Wales-made show, wedding planner is perhaps the least suited to him.

“Blokes don’t dream of their weddings from five years old. I imagine it’s largely a girl thing, not all girls, but I personally have never met a bloke who’s been thinking about what he’s going to wear from the age of five. Blokes don’t give a t***, and I just couldn’t take it seriously.

“I can tell you now, I categorically could not give a monkey’s what my own wedding day is like, I have no opinion on it. So I was finding it very hard to get into the mindset of someone who has been dreaming of that their entire life and it’s all really important – the colour of the chair backs and everything.

“It was hard to get into that world, and I didn’t manage to, but what I did manage was to really care about the couple and want it to be a day that they cared about. I care about people, not weddings.”

Rhod Gilbert checks Gareth and Samantha's wedding is running on schedule
Rhod Gilbert checks Gareth and Sarah’s wedding is running on schedule

Meeting with Samantha plunged him into the world headfirst, capturing his ensuing bafflement at the standard wedding planner spiel.

“They kept talking about wedding favours and I still don’t know what they are, that’s how bad I am with weddings. I couldn’t be bothered finding out in the end, Samantha sorted them out.”

Coming face to face with a bride and groom who had their heart set on a special day with their own stamp on it, he decided to make the most of his chance.

With each episode being filmed over the course of there days, he had to make the best impression that he could on the adorable couple and their families.

“I had one hour in the pub to try to get to know them and relax them so that they’re comfortable with me and I thought I’d done a pretty good job.

“But on the night of the wedding Craig, the father of the bride, and I were chatting it all through and he told me that he thought the first meeting went really badly.

“He said mainly because they didn’t know whether I was planning the wedding or whether I was pretending to plan the wedding. I don’t often get that kind of feedback from people. It was really interesting and a bit heartbreaking.”

Aside from the Gilbert charm, Rhod thinks that the other thing which made for a successful programme was that Sarah and Gareth were so down to earth.

“What was nice was that they weren’t a TV family, they wanted a totally normal wedding day – they were just prepared for some bizarre reason to let me get involved, and I still don’t know why,” he laughs. Dreaming of a ‘normal wedding day’ and allowing Rhod Gilbert to be the planner may seem like two dramatically opposed ideals, but for Sarah and Gareth, it worked a treat.

Rhod says there were a few tasks which he took ownership of that helped to give him an insight into the wedding planner’s world.

“I helped out with a lot of on-the-day stuff – beforehand I was getting nowhere with everything and then managed to get a few little breaks. I sorted out the Tongwynlais Temperance Band to play a movie theme when the couple walked in to the wedding and they were great, I really wanted to do that.

“I had about nine days in all, and three days of filming. One of those three is going to be the wedding so you’ve got two other days so the first day was the wedding school and meeting that family.

“The hardest part of it is that I’m trying to do the job as well as make a TV show, so I’m thinking about what we’re getting as a story as we go along, directing it with the two guys who make up our three man team, but we’re all thinking on our feet as it goes along.”

Although there are tougher tasks coming up in the run – Rhod cites his stint as a tour guide in Antwerp as the most difficult he’s ever faced – the wedding did clash with his world view.

He says he hasn’t changed his opinion in spite of his enjoyable experience.

“I’m a big fan of love and marriage and that institution, I really get all that, but I still have zero interest in weddings. It’s just the big flouncy wedding day – the cake, the photos, spending all that money on it – that’s what I didn’t get and still don’t get. If it’s for you, wonderful, but it’s not for me. Mine will be a tiny private little thing.”

Despite his gung-ho approach to his own nascent wedding planning company, Rhod says it might be a while before it takes over from his day job.

“I definitely 100% do not think I had a knack for wedding planning, so I don’t know about the future of Give a S*** Weddings. In two years I could be Wales’ premier wedding planner for people who do not give a s*** about weddings, ‘If you see this as something you’ve just got to get through somehow then I’m your man’.”

Article written by Kirstie McCrum and copied from Wales Online at http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/film-tv/meet-couple-who-rhod-gilbert-4043863

Need help planning your wedding day? Visit www.ohsoperfect.co.uk for our full list of wedding planning, styling and coordination packages and services.

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  1. The Sun Has Got His Hat On! | Behind the Scenes at The Revue Studios

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