Wedding Venue Launch

Great Betley Farmhouse Photo credits: photographybybond.co.uk
Great Betley Farmhouse – photo credit photographybybond.co.uk

A woman is like a teabag – you can’t tell how strong she is till you put her in hot water

Quote from Eleanor Roosevelt

How did I come to launch my home as a wedding venue? Sometimes it takes a cataclysmic event for you to discover your true strength and ability. Mine came in the form of being left up to my eyeballs in debt by my husband with a large farmhouse to run. In addition I now had four dogs and an ancient Siamese cat to look after with no job as such and no financial support. The odd wedding stationery job and making silver jewellery to sell brought in a little money, but not enough. Blogging about planning your wedding hadn’t been paying, although I had begun to get a following. “Plan B had better work for you” I was told as he walked out. I didn’t know what Plan A was, let alone Plan B! So began my journey to launching my place as a wedding venue.

I had been wanting to start doing B&B in order to earn some money and start to become financially independent. I had already applied for my food license and received the top Food Hygiene rating. Within a week of his leaving in November 2017 I had listed on Airbnb the only room vaguely fit for guests. Thinking that I wouldn’t get a booking until the Spring it was a bit of a shock to get my first booking a few days later. For the next day. Which I wasn’t ready for! A Frantic shopping trip for new bedding etc. ensued and my career as an Airbnb host was launched.

 

Renovations

 

Over the following nine months I renovated the other three bedrooms, sleeping in whichever room I was working on. I also showered a few times in the dog room when I had a houseful of guests. Admittedly the dogs thought I was a bit mad. They love a muddy puddle, but a clean, warm shower is total anathema to them! There were a couple of occasions when I slept on an airbed in the sitting room to accommodate guests in order to pay the bills. However, in May this year I finished renovating the last room upstairs and finally have a permanent room of my own.

Orchard View Pre Renovation
Orchard View Pre Renovation
Orchard View post renovation – photo credit photographybybond.co.uk

I took very few pre-renovation photos. I was so focused on getting as many rooms sorted as possible as quickly as possible. As you can see from the pre-reno photo some of the walls were in a scary state. It’s safe to say that I don’t intend to pick up a paintbrush or wallpaper brush any time soon!

 

Diversifying to become a wedding venue

 

Airbnb Superhost pic
Airbnb Superhost 7 quarters in a row

I love what I do, I love having people to stay. And I seem to be doing something right as I have earned Superhost status seven quarters in a row now. Additionally I have a large number of return visitors. However, it’s hard work and it seemed that there must be a way of upping my game. I am a fan of Escape to the Chateau, and watching Angel and Dick run their weddings gave me food for thought. Could I turn this place into a wedding venue?

The farm on which I live is family owned and my boys are very supportive of my business. I have happily been able to secure the use of 6-10 acres of fields around the house. Diversification is a good thing in any business. I love doing different things so it made sense to branch out into weddings and events. I am always trying to think of new things to do to bring in enough to keep the house going.

 

Weddings 

 

Planning to launch as a wedding  venue took well over a year. After my life had, for various personal reasons, effectively been on hold for months, I had to get things moving. In February I took the plunge and booked a marquee with Tents ‘n’ Events,  a great local company, and the Venue Launch Open Day was suddenly real.

There have been ups and downs. Moments when I thought that my badly potholed driveway wasn’t going to be patched up in time, causing me sleepless nights. However, things have a habit of working themselves out, and it all happened in the nick of time. With a LOT of hard work from the guys doing the driveway, and a lot of nettle stings to my arms, it got done and everything looked lovely on the day.

Great Betley Farmhouse Photo credits: photographybybond.co.uk  Marquee: http://www.tentsnevents.co.uk/

Great Betley Farmhouse
Venue Launch Open Day credits: photographybybond.co.uk 
Marquee: http://www.tentsnevents.co.uk/
Great Betley Farmhouse Photo credits: photographybybond.co.uk  Flowers: amandajaneflowers.co.uk 
Great Betley Farmhouse
Venue Launch Open Day credits: photographybybond.co.uk 
Flowers: amandajaneflowers.co.uk
Great Betley Farmhouse Photo credits: photographybybond.co.uk  Catering: https://www.baytreefoods.co.uk/ 
Great Betley Farmhouse
Photo credits: photographybybond.co.uk 
Catering: https://www.baytreefoods.co.uk/
Great Betley Farmhouse Photo credits: photographybybond.co.uk  Styling: Thebeautifulday.co.uk
Great Betley Farmhouse
Venue Launch Open Day credits: photographybybond.co.uk 
Styling: Thebeautifulday.co.uk

 

Workshops

 

As well as being a wedding venue I have also started to host workshops here, which are great fun. With some fantastic people I am busy putting together a full program for 2020.

Wreath mossing
Mossing wreaths
Christmas wreaths December 2019
Amandajaneflowers.co.uk demonstrating assembling a Hostess Bouquet
Hostess Bouquets December 2019

Hen Parties

 

We can help to send a bride off to her wedding in style!  With four double bedrooms, if hens are willing to share we can accommodate up to eight sleeping over. Other hens are welcome to join in the fun during the day/evening. There are some activity suggestions on the Hen Parties page to choose from. Alternatively feel free to tell us what you’d like to do and we’ll do our best to arrange it.

Vintage makeover from Betty Lou Vintage Events – photo credit jessicamilberg.com
Prosseco Cream Tea – photo credit jessicamilberg.com
Complementary Therapy from Henfield Holistics

 

Going forward as a wedding venue

 

It is eye wateringly scary at times to be solely responsible for making this work. Usually at about 3am! But also empowering. On the one hand every decision, good or bad, is down to me. That can be a very lonely situation to be in. However, on the other hand, this wedding venue business is entirely mine, with no one telling me that I’m doing it wrong.

Domestic abuse is a very negative experience. It drains your self confidence and erodes your sense of self-worth. To the point where you believe the person telling you that you are not capable of doing anything and are worthless. Recovering from that is a long, hard process. However, each decision you make that works, each time you do something positive helps to build your self-esteem.

There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. This whole move into the wedding venue business has happened alongside a huge amount of personal stuff going on. When the going gets tough and you have guests to look after you have to draw on inner reserves you never realised you had. I am stronger than I realised, and I am proud of what I have achieved. It wouldn’t be possible to do this entirely on my own however. Annabel, my part time assistant is great and without her I could not run this place. I live in a little piece of paradise that I really love to share with others, be it for an overnight stay on holiday, a short workshop, or a big wedding party.

Blogging

My blog posts will be a mix of things, wedding planning advice and highlighting my brilliant suppliers. I will also post about healthy vs unhealthy relationships. Although I am by no means expert on the subject I have learnt a lot over the last four years.

The wedding industry is largely a very positive place to be. It’s a happy, hopeful place and I have some wonderful friends and colleagues through it. They help to give me strength to carry on. As Jools Holland sang “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”. I can’t wait to host weddings here and help couples to have the wedding of their dreams. I am a much stronger person through all of my life experiences. All in all I make a pretty strong cup of tea!

2 Thoughts on “Wedding Venue Launch”

  • I had the pleasure of meeting you at the dementia cafe with your lovely dog and am absolutely delighted that you have progressed so positively. You must be an amazing and very positively strong woman and very proud of what you have achieved. Absolutely fantastic!! Well done!! Loved reading your blog. Take care and big hugs xxxx

    • Thank you Anne, I hope you’re keeping well? Alice and I try to go along to the cafe on the first Saturday of each month still, guests allowing! Hope to see you there again perhaps 🙂 xxx

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