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Helen knows love: a wedding planner for 40 years on romance, catastrophe and her gut feeling about the future of couples

Helen Harrowfield is a self-confessed romantic, and she or he would must be to have 40 years within the marriage ceremony and occasions trade.

At 77, Harrowfield is retiring from an trade that has introduced her pleasure and lots of challenges alongside the way in which.

She’s seen just about every thing there may be to see on her large day with {couples} in love. Tears, panic, diva conduct, absolute catastrophe and extra tears, she says.

Harrowfield admits she’s a bit of tender on what we name love.

“I used to be dropped at tears a few instances. This one lovely bride got here out on her father’s arm to see me. And she or he mentioned, ‘Do you’re keen on my costume?’ And I simply dissolved, I used to be simply an absolute effervescent mess.

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Helen Harrowfield has been in the events and wedding industry for over 40 years.  This photo was taken at work in 1999.


Helen Harrowfield has been within the occasions and marriage ceremony trade for over 40 years. This photograph was taken at work in 1999.

The younger lady had the couple’s initials hand-embroidered on her bodice, and to this present day Harrowfield would not know why that second touched her probably the most.

“The ridiculous factor was, she comforted me.”

Harrowfield’s profession started within the hospitality trade. In 1977 she started working as a dishwasher after which as a waitress at a restaurant known as Casa del Sol on Norfolk Island. She was afraid of interacting with prospects however started to like the dialog and the enjoyment that meals introduced.

Years later she joined White Tie Catering in Christchurch, and there she will probably be retiring – with what could also be a singular expertise.

Although divorced herself, Harrowfield believes she will be able to predict whether or not a pair will go their method by choosing up clues throughout their first assembly and on the marriage day.

At 77, Helen Harrowfield is retiring after 40 years in the events and wedding industry.


At 77, Helen Harrowfield is retiring after 40 years within the occasions and marriage ceremony trade.

“Typically a pair will stroll out of the workplace and the entire workplace will arise and be like, ‘Oh wow, they simply go so properly collectively.’ They will simply say, ‘Wow, that is the way it’s purported to be’.”

Does she have the present of additionally realizing if they’re setting themselves up for failure?

“I do not prefer to say that.”

A number of questions for members of the occasions crew who work with Harrowfield and it is apparent why they love what they carry to the trade.

White Tie government chef Stuart Morrison mentioned Harrowfield’s humorousness and stress-free nature put a smile on the face of the entire workplace.

“Her snicker. Even when somebody instructed her they had been including 300 individuals on the final minute, she would simply snicker and cope with it.”

Helen Harrowfield is stepping down after 40 years in the events and wedding business.


Helen Harrowfield is stepping down after 40 years within the occasions and marriage ceremony enterprise.

White Tie director Katie Duncan has labored with Harrowfield for 27 years and requested her to learn at her personal marriage ceremony as she had grow to be a particular buddy.

“A number of years in the past, when she tried to speak about her retirement, I crawled beneath my desk and cried. Then I attempted to barter a two-year discover interval.”

“Helen is simply probably the most honest, honest and mild individual. She’s negotiated truces between brides and moms, she’s served royals, deliberate occasions in the course of nowhere, and tended to {couples} with lifeguards and at all times with probably the most skilled, respectful environment.

“She actually is one in 1,000,000.” Harrowfield finds it thrilling to place the couple’s wishes first and switch their concepts into a good looking marriage ceremony day.

Harrowfield says weddings have gone from being very traditional to being much more relaxed over the years.  (file photo)

Charisse Kenion / Unsplash

Harrowfield says weddings have gone from being very conventional to being far more relaxed through the years. (file photograph)

She says nothing is off limits, and within the 40 years she’s been organizing occasions and weddings, instances have modified considerably, from very conventional to all that is allowed.

“We have grow to be a bit of extra relaxed about weddings now. This is not the 1980’s when there was fairly strict protocol on how weddings ought to be accomplished. It is nonetheless elegant however not as conventional.”

The crazier, the higher too.

“We encourage the odd, we encourage individuals to be themselves. We’re all for it.”

Sure, typically issues go mistaken, she says. “There are numerous disasters involving a human being. Most [people] brings their respect and kindness, [but] We now have to be on guard towards anti-social conduct.”

After so many years in the business, Harrowfield says she can always tell when a couple needs to be together.


After so a few years within the enterprise, Harrowfield says she will be able to at all times inform when a pair must be collectively.

Instances are harder than ever for the occasions and marriage ceremony trade, she says. Covid-19 restrictions and the fast unfold of Omicron have resulted in cancellations, postponements, job losses, diminished incomes and typically a whole overhaul of marriage ceremony protocol from the kitchen to the vows with mask-wearing.

“After all, Covid has brought on a variety of stress within the trade. choices {couples} [have] to do as they do with out half their household [who are not] capable of make it from abroad.”

However one factor stays the identical, and that is her perception in first, second, and third likelihood romance.

“I am a giant believer in romance,” she says.

“I’ve seen all of it and what strikes me are these lovely younger individuals working collectively like an amazing crew who appear to have one another’s backs. And that provides them power and area for like to flourish.”


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