A Takeaway on Saturday Night Takeaway… A Surprise Wedding

When you receive an email out of the blue on a bleak Wednesday morning at the start of a new year…

Front page of the script for the Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway
Front page of the script

“Hello Michelle,

I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I am a producer at ITV…We are planning a live wedding for Feb 19th in London which will be broadcast on ITV. We are looking for a celebrant to lead the wedding and I wanted to drop you a quick message to see if you would firstly, be interested in being involved and secondly, if you would be free on this date.”

What do you do?

  1. Dismiss it and think I’ll respond later?
  2. Immediately check diary to confirm you ARE available and respond within minutes of opening said email?

Yeah, I went for b too….and so the journey began.

I spoke to Will, the producer the following day. He filled me in on the details and swore me to secrecy. Apart from my husband, I told no one else at that time…he too was sworn to secrecy…and for him…as it’s nigh on impossible to not blurt something out, he did very, very well!!

And then I had to wait for just over a week as they were also in talks with  some other celebrants. Fingers, toes and everything I possessed, that could be crossed, was indeed crossed as I nervously waited to see if I had got the gig.

8 days later I received the confirmation email…we’d love for you to be our celebrant for the live wedding going out on the first episode of the new series of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on the 19th of Feb…are you still up for it…

Hmmm….YES!!!!!

Email exchanges, a few phone calls and a Zoom call with Will and the groom Nick, a few tweaks to the script and timings and we were all set.

Chiswick House

The conservatory at Chiswick House from the outside
The venue

We were to arrive at the venue, Chiswick House in West London for an 11am start. It was the day after Storm Eunice had wreaked devastation over our part of the country. All was good though, the venue was intact even though outside it was still a little bit blustery.

Although I have filmed for tv before ….oooh… get me… this was different as it was for a live show, and that was something new. It was great seeing behind the scenes and just how much work went into creating a few minutes of live tv footage.

The props, the rigs…and not forgetting all the people it takes to bring us a dose of weekly entertainment.

Between the rehearsals, Nick and I retreated to the only warm room in the place, the dressing room where our lovely bride Vicky would be getting ready later. I have never met a more nervous groom, and I’ve dealt with a few over the years!

Keeping the Secret

I got to hear all about how they got engaged in 2019 and had planned their dream wedding for 2020, only for it to be scuppered by Covid…3 times…and then they lost all their money when the venue went bust. Completely devastating for them both.

Unbeknown to Nick, one of Vicky’s friends had entered them into a competition to win a dream wedding. When he himself was contacted in the summer of 2021, he found out it was for a wedding live on the first episode of the new series of Saturday Night Takeaway…

A nervous groom, chewing his hand as we are sat in the changing dressing room
A nervous Nick

After his own nerve -wracking wait, he too was told, their wedding was to be ‘the one’  and so all his scheming and planning began.

He was allegedly in Miami on business for the 10 days preceding the wedding. Poor chap had to stick to Miami time, meaning no phone calls, just messages. He then had to ignore all the requests for photos and videos of his trip to Disney too. Vicky really had no inkling of what he was up to!

The Ceremony

screen shot from the tv
Ceremony in full swing on the tv

Nick deserves a medal for keeping the surprise for so many months! His nerves were certainly evident on the big day, a lot of ‘what if’s’ were running through his mind. He did brilliantly though, and once he had completed  his first live link to the studio, and Vicky had through her shock replied ‘Yes’, he visibly relaxed and he waited for his bride to arrive by helicopter and Rolls Royce.

My original brief gave us 3 ½ minutes for a live ceremony, so the script was written accordingly. As the show was finalised that was reduced to just about 1 minute, with the ring exchange, first kiss and introduction of husband and wife and the other 2 ½ minutes would happen off screen with a pause until we went live.

The vows on Saturday night takeaway cards
The vows

That’s cool, as a celebrant I can fit any brief given, and although it was split in two, the joy in the room was palpable and it gave me time to brief the very nervous bride on how to place the groom’s wedding ring ready for the countdown into the live part of the show.

The producer gave me the go in my earpiece, and I was off grinning like a loon as I informed everyone we were live (desperately telling myself  to remember to say Saturday Night Takeaway and not Saturday Night Live!!!)

All the guests played their parts, cheering with delight on cue, with a very loud vow to support the happy couple too…and just like that it was over!

The beams from the happy couple were huge, the relief was equally as huge, it had all gone swimmingly and my first foray into live tv was completed.  I really hope it won’t be my last!

Thank you’s

Michelle & Bex The Celebrant grinding at the camera
Michelle & Bex

Thanks to @Bexthecelebrant who also works on the show for the recommendation

To ITV for the opportunity

And to Nick Worth ( our groom) for the company

As well as for all the love that has flowed my way since it went out on tv.

The life of a celebrant doesn’t get much better than this!

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