Wedding Venue Hire Fees

Wedding venue hire fees – how are they arrived at? Is it just a number plucked out of thin air?!

There’s been a fair amount of bad press surrounding weddings during the current lockdown. Insurance companies haven’t always been paying out when they should for weddings cancelled because of the pandemic. Some suppliers sadly haven’t been playing fair either, but they’re in the minority. Annabel Beeforth from Love my Dress has written a great blog post giving a voice to wedding venues. Today I thought I’d shed some light on what is taken into consideration when setting the wedding venue hire fees for Great Betley Farmhouse. This will I hope also show why it’s not simply a case of refunding all fees when something goes wrong.

Deposit/Booking Fee

Exclusive Use

The definition of a deposit is: “a sum payable as a first instalment on the purchase of something or as a pledge for a contract, the balance being payable later.”

Your signed contract and deposit/booking fee secures your wedding venue for your chosen dates. Those dates are not then available for anyone else to book. Great Betley Farmhouse is a multipurpose venue. It is operated as a year round bed and breakfast, hen party venue, and workshop venue. Your wedding is extremely important to us, and you deserve our full attention on the day. Therefore, other activities here cannot be run alongside. This is our commitment to you.

Duration

Your wedding venue hire fees cover essentially three days. You have access from 12 noon the day before your wedding until 12 noon the day after. This allows for setting up the wedding, the day of the event, and for clearing up afterwards. These timings are negotiable, depending on other events happening before and after yours.

The accommodation is for the night before and the night of the wedding. Even if you don’t need the accommodation for your wedding it can’t be used by anyone else. It wouldn’t be fair on someone wanting a nice quiet break in a farmhouse B&B to have a large party going on.

Planning

Weddings are planned sometimes two or three years in advance. By securing your dates at the wedding venue you have pledged your commitment to us. Once your dates are fixed, no one else can book them. For anything. Obviously if you were to cancel a year or more in advance we have a reasonably good chance of rebooking. The closer we get to your dates, the harder it becomes to resell those dates. That is why the cancellation fees are done on a sliding scale.

Balance of Wedding Venue Hire Fees

What else goes into the make up of wedding venue hire fees?

Admin

Admin fees may well be considered a dirty phrase, but there is always admin involved. From the initial contact, to showing a couple around (sometimes more than once), to the day itself, time is involved. It’s time that is not spent doing other things, and often takes you away from other jobs. Emails, phone calls, dealing with suppliers, etc.

Field Maintenance and Preparation

Okay, so you’re getting married or having your reception in a field. You may think that it doesn’t need much maintenance or preparation. Great Betley is a working farm. Mostly it is arable and rented out to a local farmer. However, the event fields that I have take some looking after.

Livestock

My neighbour on the farm has sheep – you can see posts about them and other things on my Instagram and Facebook pages. We have a collaboration going where in the Autumn and Winter they graze the fields. This helps with the grass management as sheep are great at getting pasture into good condition. However, we have to make sure that they are taken off the fields in good time before an event. Legally fields cannot have livestock on them within 28 days of an event.

Grass management

This year has been easier to think about in some respects. The current restrictions have meant that I know that the first wedding of the season is in early July. And we are so hoping that it can go ahead! I can therefore leave the grass to grow for now and have silage made out of it in June. This means that the grass will be nice and short in time for the wedding.

Once the sheep come off the fields in early Spring and with warmer weather the grass really starts to grow! The wedding season starts here in May, so in normal years it won’t be possible to make silage. The fields will need to be topped well before the grass really gets going. And it will need to be done approximately every 2-3 weeks to keep it under control. This costs money. I don’t have a tractor and topper so I have to subcontract that job out.

This year, no one knows when the restrictions will be lifted, or when weddings will be able to happen. If the early July date is not possible we have contingency plans for August and also next July. The fields will have to maintain their short back and sides just in case we can go ahead at short notice.

Other Field Maintenance

Fencing is another thing that I have to think about. It would take a vast amount of money to fence the fields as I would like all in one go. So it’s an ongoing project.

Rabbits are the bane of my life! They are very destructive in the fields. Whilst this is a farm wedding venue, I do try to deal with the vast craters they can create!

General Maintenance

House and Grounds

The house and grounds also need to be looking nice. Great Betley Farmhouse is a beautiful Tudor building with white render. It doesn’t stay fresh looking on it’s own. Pete from PPC Window Cleaning keeps the windows clean regularly. He also washes the white render whenever it needs freshening up.

Front of House

Since this photo was taken the trees at the front of the house have been removed. This has let much more light into the house. The ugly rotten wooden fence on the left has been removed and replaced with gorgeous railings which have opened up the gardens. During lockdown I have painted the white picket fence to give it a bit of a facelift.

The garden and I have an ongoing battle – the weeds seem to grow faster than they can be pulled! I do go for the rather rustic look. This place is never going to be manicured to within an inch of it’s life. However, massive thistles and nettles are not welcome. Other “weeds” such as forget me not and foxglove etc are relocated to the wild flower bank. Currently I’m doing the gardening (or trying to!) myself. However, normally I pay someone else to do it as I haven’t got the time. The lawn by the pond and the back garden lawn are cut by someone else who has a ride on mower. Again, this costs money.

Improvements

Then and now

As you can see from the two pictures above taken a year apart improvements are being made.

View from front to back garden
Pretty railings replace the old rotten wooden fence

You can see much more of the improvements and catching up I’ve been doing in a previous post.

Driveway

The driveway here is an ongoing maintenance project! It is a working farm and it will therefore never be a smooth as an A road. I do try however to make sure that the worst potholes are kept under control.

Day to Day Running Costs

Utilities

As you are no doubt aware, the running costs of a property are many and continual. General utilities such as electricity, water and drainage have to be taken into account.

Insurance

The wedding venue hire fees have to take into account the eye-wateringly high insurance. Here at Great Betley I have £10M public liability insurance. That doesn’t come cheap! However, it’s important to me that all bases are covered.

Whilst a wedding insurance policy should cover the couple for cancellation, venue insurance does not cover pandemic. Business interruption on a policy might cover certain diseases, but COVID-19 is a novel virus and therefore not covered.

General Safety

Regular electrical testing and certification is essential when running a venue.

Housekeeping

Without my part time assistant, Annabel, I could not run this place. Unless I discover the secret of cloning myself! She’s been my absolute rock for the last few years and we work very well together. She keeps the cleaning under control, helps with turning around the guest rooms and also does some admin work for me.

When I first started up as a B&B I did all the laundry myself. Which was fine when I only had one or two rooms for guests. But it got to a point where I just couldn’t keep up with it – and I hate ironing with a passion! So I now have a laundry service, Johnsons Stalbridge, who supply the bed linen and towels. They collect and deliver every week, everything is washed, dried and ironed to perfection!

Wedding Venue Hire Fees During Lockdown

I have been in the fortunate position of being a new wedding venue. I am therefore able to reschedule my current bookings easily. It does come at a cost of course. Weddings that don’t go ahead this year and are rescheduled to next year is two dates for the price of one. Strictly speaking wedding insurance should pay out if a wedding is cancelled and neither the couple or the venue loses out. But as mentioned before, insurance companies aren’t always playing fair. Charging more than once for one booking under current circumstances doesn’t sit well with me.

Some couples also haven’t necessarily been playing fair either. Postponing from an off peak mid week date to a peak season weekend date without an increase in price is not fair on the venue. Demanding all of the venue hire fees back because of the pandemic without negotiating a new date puts a huge amount of pressure on the venue. All the work and expenses detailed above still have to be done and paid for.

So, in conclusion. A wedding venue costs a bomb to run, and having listed it all here I’m off to rock quietly in the corner clutching a bottle of gin!

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