‘The DJ was drunk and the photographer slipped over’ – how Barkingside man became king of the wedding planners

Toastmaster Jonathan Waterman

Toastmaster Jonathan Waterman - Credit: Archant

The run-up to a wedding can be pretty daunting, but one Barkingside man makes it his mission to ensure couples get to the altar without a hitch.

Jonathan has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London

Jonathan has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London - Credit: Archant

Jonathan Waterman, 42, is a toastmaster, events planner and master of ceremonies, a career he fell into after salvaging a friend’s disastrous nuptials.

The job, which sees him do anything from booking venues to providing entertainment and making announcements, is to ensure his bride and groom, or hosts, have the best experience possible.

Now, after honing his skills for six years, Jonathan, who lives in Ludham Close, Barkingside, has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

The award marks the pinnacle of his career.


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Jonathan, who previously sold hardware and software components, said of his friend’s disastrous wedding: “The DJ was drunk and the photographer slipped over, hurt himself and ripped his trousers.

“The food, when it came out, was cold and had not been cooked properly.”

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“I had been to three weddings on the trot and remembered the stuff I saw at them. I tried to improvise and put in a few special touches.

“I got everyone on the dancefloor and I got everything back on track.”

One of the guests was a DJ and another a photography student who happened to have a camera in his possession, so they filled in for the rest of the day.

Jonathan said: “People then said to me I should train up to become a toastmaster and a planner, so I did. Now I look back with happiness. I enjoy working with brides and grooms and hosts to make sure they have the most memorable day of their lives.”

Jonathan was nominated for the Freedom by two city liverymen who he came across at his events.

He said: “I was over the moon. It feels like such a personal achievement.

“I hope to further my career in planning and do more high profile events.”

But what is the difference between a toastmaster and an events organiser?

Jonathan said the roles, which he combines if it complies with his host’s wishes, are not dissimilar.

A planner tends to be involved from the beginning, booking venues and suppliers, whereas a toastmaster may come in after this stage to work with the people who have been booked and create a schedule.

On the day itself, Jonathan makes sure everything runs smoothly.

For weddings, he has many tricks up his sleeve. These include a Mr and Mrs game, inspired by the television show, which tests how well the bride and groom really know each other, and ceremonies such as candle lighting and the bride and groom writing messages about each other on a card, to read on their first anniversary.

He has taken charge of events at the Natural History Museum and the Royal Exchange, and he worked at the Asian Football Awards at Wembley Stadium earlier this month.

But what makes a good toastmaster?

“You have to be a real people person, organised and have attention to detail. You also have to be patient and on the side of the bride and groom.”

He added: “It’s good to be down to earth. I’m delighted to work with anyone who needs my help, whether their event is in a village hall or Kensington Palace.”

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