By Village Farm Marquees 15 Sep, 2017

Helen Davies – who has run events at the prestigious Rise Hall stately home for TV celebrity Sarah Beeny for the past four years.

We can’t tell you how excited we are about this new link-up to create ‘Village Farm Events – with Helen Davies’, for all sorts of reasons.

Of course, she’s simply brilliant – and one of the most sought after event planners in the UK.

But aside from that, she’s a lovely person and a consummate professional – a very neat fit indeed with our ethos here at Village Farm Marquees, and we’re looking forward to developing some really exciting new opportunities together.

We have to admit that this feels a little like kismet – one of those happy events in life that seems to come at the right time, for the right reasons.

And we’re particularly excited about the new avenues the partnership with Helen will enable us to explore with our clients. We have already begun to venture into wedding planning and delivery, and have had the privilege to work with some wonderful clients over the past year, on shaping their special day.

Working with Helen will now enable us to go one step further, though, in collaboration with someone who is at the top of her game and, frankly, renowned for creating magic wherever she goes.

The partnership will mean all our customers booking weddings or other events with Village Farm Marquees will benefit from extensive advice from the expanded Village Farm team, including Helen. This will cover everything from supplier recommendations to creative concept ideas. An upgrade to full event planning by Helen will also be available, with or without one of our marquees.

We spoke to her about her journey to this point, her experience at the famous Rise, and what she’ll be offering our clients.

First things first – Rise Hall

Of course, we couldn’t resist asking her for a sneaky peek into the fabulous world of Rise Hall.

“My Rise Hall 'story' began in 2013, just 12 months after launching my own wedding planning business, 'The Wedding Concierge',” she said.

“Sarah Beeny contacted me out of the blue and explained that she needed some help at Rise Hall. She had spoken to a number of wedding industry professionals, who had repeatedly mentioned my name,” continued Helen.

“When Sarah got in touch and asked me to meet her at Rise Hall the same day, I had no idea what to expect. I imagined that her team might have needed some ‘on the day’ help with weddings and events, or perhaps some generic guidance relevant to their business.

“Intrigued, I headed over there for a face-to-face meeting with Sarah, during which I recall drinking an obscene amount of coffee!”

And so it began.

“It turned out that, having completed the restoration of the property and following a lengthy battle with the local authority to secure the relevant licences, Sarah needed help to drive the business forward.

“It was clear to me that Rise Hall had enormous potential as a wedding and events venue, but there were certain fundamental elements missing and this represented an enormous opportunity.

“Sarah persuaded me to seize it and, six days later, I moved in with nothing more than a suitcase, a computer and a head full of ideas. This was so much more than a job. Rise Hall became my home and my number one priority. I put it before everything and everyone else in order to focus on making it a success. It was my life.”

And what followed for Helen was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and opportunity to build something truly extra-special.

“The first six months were terrifying and exciting in equal measure,” she continued.

“With no systems, processes or people in place, everything needed to be established from scratch, which included implementing customer relationship management systems, appointing housekeepers and general administration staff, managing the maintenance of the property and its grounds, overseeing relationships with multiple third party contractors, overhauling bed linen, upgrading soft furnishings, installing headboards on beds, replacing interior fire doors and installing a serviceable bar, all while promoting Rise Hall as a venue, attracting numerous clients, conducting viewings, taking bookings, meeting with suppliers, and hosting weddings and events.”

And all this hard work paid off, massively.

“In 2014, we entered the Wedding Industry Awards and were highly commended in two categories – Best Countryside Wedding Venue and Best Events Team,” said Helen.

“In 2015, we received the Regional Award (based solely on customer feedback) for the Best Countryside Wedding Venue in the North East of England. I doubt that I will ever again experience such a feeling of pride. Rise Hall and its tiny, but incredibly passionate and committed team were well and truly on the map. We were being recognised. It was an incredible result.”

And the growth of its reputation was mirrored by an increase in bookings.

“At the point when I took over Rise Hall in June 2013, there were just 17 weddings in the diary. However, this number grew to 32 and Rise Hall now hosts an average of 40 weddings each year,” she added.

And the million-dollar question – what was it actually like, living in the kind of property most people can only dream about?

“I felt very privileged to live in such a beautiful place. I am a country girl at heart and am definitely happiest surrounded by beautiful scenery, so I felt blessed to be in such a historic building, surrounded by idyllic countryside. However, it was incredibly lonely at times - and cold!”

Rise’s secrets of success

So what, does Helen believe, were the contributing factors to this venue’s phenomenal turnaround of fortunes?

“We focused on offering every couple exclusive use of the entire venue, which enabled them to have complete freedom and flexibility,” she added.

“As such, they were able to create precisely the experience they wanted to have, often for a full weekend – Friday to Sunday.”

“The Rise Hall team were also incredibly passionate and committed to delivering a truly personal service. In one particular instance, a bride described her experience as being as though she had ‘been looked after by a team who felt like family’. Couples often remarked about the fact that everything we did for them made them feel ‘at home’.

“I developed a relationship with every bride and groom, always taking into account their individual visions of the perfect day and making sure that no two weddings were ever the same.

“I provided each individual couple with a personalised portfolio of suppliers, whose products and personalities were the perfect match for their needs.

“The best weddings I planned there were those where couples and their families truly embraced every opportunity to personalise their experience. There are certainly one or two which stand out in my memory and I have made some life-long friends as a result.”

By Village Farm Marquees 15 Sep, 2017

And we are absolutely bursting with anticipation about this one!

After four years building the reputation of the famous Rise Hall, in East Yorkshire, alongside TV property star Sarah Beeny, Helen has decided to join us. Together, we are proud to launch ‘Village Farm Events – with Helen Davies’.

Our mission will be to create and deliver unforgettable experiences for people planning everything from corporate events to weddings, birthday parties and every other type of special occasion.

The partnership will mean that our customers will now benefit from even more event-planning advice, from supplier recommendations to creative concept ideas. An upgrade to full event planning is also available, with or without one of our marquees.

This partnership represents a fantastic new chapter for both Helen and us. We’re delighted to say that Village Farm Marquees is growing faster than ever, as well as being shortlisted in the Outstanding Customer Service category of the North of England Wedding Awards. Collaborating with Helen, who is one of the most sought-after event planners in the UK, marks the next, natural stage in our evolution.

We share the same commitment to delivering attention to detail, quality service and good humoured, personalised client care that is second-to-none.

Until recently, Helen was Wedding Co-ordinator and Manager of Rise Hall, which was bought and renovated by TV property icon Sarah in a blaze of publicity in 2012. Helen established its place as an award-winning venue and increased its annual list of weddings from 17 to 40.

By Village Farm Marquees 12 Sep, 2017

Most brides spend the months leading up to their big day sorting out caterers, invites, cake design, favours and bridesmaids’ dresses.

And they find that stressful enough.

But for Becky Cunningham and hubby John, getting ready involved six months of property renovation to boot.

Because they decided to hold their wedding at Barff House, the idyllic East Yorkshire farm owned by John’s parents, John and Katy, since 2010.

And that meant clearing out, cleaning and reinforcing an ancient barn at the property, to make it a fit venue for their wedding night knees-up.

The couple spent almost every weekend of 2017 staying over at the farm and holiday cottages, grafting alongside John’s parents to get it sorted. And that hard work continued right up to the week before their wedding.

“I know it probably sounds like an awful lot of hard work to most people,” said Becky, a self-employed performing arts teacher.

“But it was actually really lovely the way our preparations brought the whole family together, because we were living and working together on such a big project.”

Becky’s dad Peter and brother Thomas, both photographers, now live in New Zealand and came over to help out too, the week before the wedding. Her mum, who lives in Derbyshire, was involved, too.

“As a result, there was no awkwardness at all by the time the wedding came around, because everyone had got to know each other so well beforehand,” added Becky.

John and Katy took over Barff House, which is just outside the village of Brandesburton, as an old shell of a farmhouse, having decided to retire from their careers. They have spent the years since lovingly renovating it, and transforming old outbuildings on the site into holiday cottages. Its setting is so idyllic, it was the obvious choice as a place for the couple to hold their celebrations.

They had their ceremony at nearby Beverley Registry Office with close family on Wednesday 2 August, followed by a meal for 12. They followed this with a bigger celebration for family and friends the following Saturday, 5 August, at Barff House. 

Village Farm Marquees provided a marquee for their sit-down wedding breakfast meal, and then they rounded things off with a knees-up in the adjacent barn that night. 

“The barn was a bit of a tip really,” said Becky.

“It was very dirty and full of old machinery and equipment but we worked alongside John’s mum and dad to get rid of all that, knocked a partition wall down and painted the interior.”

A team effort

And many other aspects of the wedding preparations were a real family affair, too.

John’s sister Ellie’s boyfriend, Aaron Morris, is a photographer, too. So, as you can see from the beautiful pictures accompanying this blog, they had their photography well covered.

Ellie is a talented baker in her spare time and made their wedding cake. Her mum Dawn Holmes is an artist, and designed all of their favours, place names, table plan board and large decorative signs for the barn and bar, made from recycled pieces of an old cart shed. She even painted a special watercolour picture of Barff House for their invitations.

Becky’s grandma Arlene worked with John’s mum Katy to make 400 bunting flags, and collectively they decked the barn out with a canape ceiling featuring 200 metres of fairy lights!

“Basically, the whole family came over from the Wednesday before our party and everyone was given their list of jobs to get everything ready,” said Becky, 28.

“They were all amazing. They made a beautiful aisle for us to walk down from the house to the marquee, and my mum and grandma adorned this with a flower arch.”

The Saturday began with all the guests’ chairs out on the gravel in front of the house and marquee. John’s Aunt Susanna conducted a civil ceremony to kick things off, followed by two readings by John’s mum and Becky’s best friend Sam. They marked their union by ‘hand fasting’ with ribbons, as they had already exchanged rings at the registry office, and read out their own, specially-written, vows to one another.

John’s sister Ellie, a trainee teacher, serenaded them with a specially written song, accompanied by her ukulele.

They then had their photographs taken in the beautiful English garden of Barff House, followed by their sit-down wedding breakfast and speeches in the marquee.

Garden games followed, with a knees-up in the barn and more fairy lights in the surrounding woods for people to enjoy walking around.

John, 34, a film maker, proposed to Becky last year, during their four-month round-the-world trip, and so they projected poignant photographs from their travels onto the barn wall. Their music was provided by Manchester’s ‘Twisted Tubes’ New Orleans-style brass band, again inspired by their travel experiences.

“We could never have done it without our family,” continued Becky.

“It probably sounds like a lot of hard work but it was actually really lovely the way it brought everyone together. Our wedding celebration itself was really absolutely amazing, but with all the hard work over, we’re all wondering ‘what shall we do now?’.”

By Village Farm Marquees 10 Sep, 2017

Cocktails are fast becoming the first choice of beverage when it comes to weddings and events as they offer something different to other traditional alcoholic drinks, as well as a ‘wow’ factor, according to Lucy Barrow, Director of Leeds-based Mix & Twist.

She said that, as weddings are such huge occasions, cocktails add a unique and colourful twist to such a joyous and momentous time in people’s lives. 

These flavoursome drinks have always been massive at parties and corporate events, and have dominated menus at bars for years. They offer a little extra indulgence – and there’s nothing better than the fun and excitement that goes into making them for a bit of team building or ice-breaking activities and games.

In recent years Lucy has seen more and more brides and grooms opting for the joys of ‘mixology’.

And Mix & Twist have taken this one step further, by offering couples the opportunity to design their own unique wedding cocktail that reflects their personalities and history as a couple.

“We work with couples and ask them their favourite flavours and spirits so that we can create a bespoke cocktail that is unique to them,” said Lucy.

“It just adds a personal touch and they can name it after themselves or maybe the place where they met.”

So what, exactly, is the process of creating such a unique drink?

 “We first of all get to understand if they prefer sweet flavours or something a bit more sour, or maybe something fruity, and produce a cocktail that is unique to them.

“This can add that something extra special to their big day and act as a real talking point for their guests.”

What makes for a great cocktail?

We couldn’t resist asking Lucy her view on the key ingredients for a perfect cocktail.

“A cocktail needs to have the right balance of sweet and sour,” she said.

“This can be achieved by adding lemon and lime flavour with a little sugar. It needs to be well balanced and pop with a really great colour, as nobody wants to drink a cocktail that looks like pond water! This is vital as you don’t want people pulling strange faces!

“The garnish is really important too, as the overall look needs to have visual impact.

“It’s a good idea to think about using the flavours within your cocktails as a garnish.

“Take a Cosmopolitan, for example, which features Cointreau (orange liqueur). You could add a flamed orange peel to decorate it, making it look incredibly colourful as a feature at your wedding or other event.”

  Top 5 wedding drinks of 2017

Of course, it’s not all about cocktails. We asked Lucy what she sees as the most popular wedding and events drinks of this year. This is how she ranked them:

1.     Craft gins with a mixture of fancy garnishes

2.    Cocktails

3.    Craft beers

4.    Real ales

5.    Whisky

She added: “While cocktails are more popular than ever, the other big trend is gin. Craft beer is also becoming huge, particularly really cool brands like BrewDog. And real ale is also making a bit of a comeback.”

Getting the kids involved

When it comes to weddings, adults can seem to be the ones who have all the fun when it comes to posh drinks. Not any more, though. Mix & Twist have developed a range of non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’ and Lucy says this is a brilliant way of ensuring the younger guests don’t feel left out.

“They get really excited because they think they are having a cocktail,” she said.

“We offer a lot of fresh fruits and dress their drinks up to make them more interesting. We can even do a mojito for the children, which makes them feel like grown-ups.”

By Village Farm Marquees 28 Jul, 2017

Of course, we love nothing better than a beautiful wedding at Village Farm Marquees.

But that’s not all we’re about.

Our commitment to designing and planning bespoke marquee solutions extends to corporate clients too. And we really enjoy the challenge of coming up with unique solutions that will support their marketing efforts by making an organisation’s brand stand out from the crowd.

So, we were delighted when we took a call from Natwest Bank’s marketing team. They wanted something a little extra special for their presence at this year’s Driffield Show, and asked us to get our thinking caps on.

What we came up with was a smart-looking marquee with its own integral gable branding and outside verandah and seating area, to create a more welcoming ambiance for their visitors on the day.

By Village Farm Marquees 27 Jul, 2017

Get the tissues ready!

Make sure you’re sitting comfortably.

Because here we have Part 2 of the fairy tale wedding of Bill Waddington and his beautiful lady Nikki Greenwood (now Mrs Waddington, of course).

And this was such a lovely, emotional occasion that our Village Farm Marquees team are almost moved to tears re-living it with Nikki for this piece.

We were event planners on this occasion, as well as providing the marquee, and so we had the privilege of sharing – almost – every special moment with this lovely couple.

Of course, we’re delighted to report that all the practicalities went off without a hitch. Phew!

But the best thing of all was how those intricate little details – many of which only we would see – came together magically and created a unique and highly personal weekend full of love and laughter – building memories that will last Nikki, Bill, and their many loved ones, a lifetime.

“I don’t know what else to say, other than that everything was just perfect, all that we could have wished for,” said Nikki.

“The team of people who helped us to organise it were amazing – from our DJ to our caterers, musicians, florist, videographer, photographer, make-up artist and hairdresser, to the event team who made sure everything and everyone was where they should be – and when. Above all, it felt like organising a great big party with good friends.”

Even the weather played ball (for once), and the couple enjoyed perfect sunshine throughout their weekend of celebrations, with the rain only starting to fall at midnight on the Sunday night. Another little miracle to round things off nicely.

You may remember that we previewed this momentous occasion in May, sharing Nikki and Bill’s incredibly romantic ‘back story’, as well as a hint of their unusual plans for their wedding. At that point, they were keen not to spoil the surprise by giving too much away, but now all can be revealed!

Bill is a criminal lawyer and director at Williamson’s law firm in Hull, while Nikki now teaches Zumba and ‘Clubbercise’ fitness classes.

The couple have known each other for 25 years but were frequently separated due to geography and their different career paths. Nikki was a professional dancer on cruise ships until she turned 30, which took her all over the world. Having finally got around to tying the knot, they decided to mark the occasion with a whole weekend of festivities, on 8 and 9 July.

Zermatt in Switzerland is a place they have both grown to love over the years, as a backdrop to special holidays and somewhere they’ve returned to year after year, often reuniting them after time apart. It is also where Bill asked Nikki to marry him last year.

So theming their wedding around their favourite mountain getaway seemed an obvious choice.

Their dance floor featured a bespoke ski chalet theme, complete with mock roaring fireplace, chesterfield sofas, fur throws and skis, unveiled as a surprise ‘reveal’ as the night time party got under way. Their evening buffet – as well as including Swiss cheeses and other delicacies – was served on antique skis, and even their four-tiered cake featured Nikki and Bill figurines whizzing down a ski slope.

And this unique theme wasn’t the only example of this lovely couple’s flair and sense of fun during the weekend. They also had comedy drunken singing waiters entertaining guests at their wedding breakfast, a very personal blend of classical jazz music and a Gipsy Kings tribute act – not to mention impromptu comedy from family members.

Nikki’s best friend Louise Brown and her husband Chris sang two poignant songs as Nikki and Bill signed the register – ‘End of Time’ from the musical Moulin Rouge, and ‘The Prayer’, most famous from a duet between Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. And Bill’s nieces and their husbands treated everyone to a comedy impression of Nikki and Bill – one dressed as an old man with a wheelbarrow and the other one dancing around clad in colourful lycra – to the tune of the Beatles’ ‘When I’m 64’.

“It was just magical,” added Nikki. 

“Above all, it felt like we were surrounded by a room full of love. Like us, so many of the people we care about had waited so long to see us get married, there was a real sense of celebration which made it an extra-special day.”

The couple got married at All Saints Church in Hessle, East Yorkshire, followed by a wedding breakfast, evening party and, the following day, a newly-weds party in a marquee in the garden of their Hessle home.

Their wedding and wedding breakfast were chic and classical, with ivory table dressings and drapes, highlighted with rose gold sequins for a little sparkle, and topped off with classical English blooms. Their food, provided by leading East Yorkshire caterers Ceruttis, was a Zermatt-inspired grilled asparagus with griddled prawn starter, followed by lamb with dauphinoise potatoes and a medley of vegetables, and raspberry crème brulee for pudding, served with a Skorppio vodka and lemon sorbet drink. 

In the evening, they had a Swiss-inspired cheese and fondue buffet, served on a ski-themed display. To drink, there was a selection of red, white and rose wine. Their newly-weds party featured a continental-style buffet featuring hot beef, salmon and Swiss sausage.

But Nikki said she and Bill were so busy enjoying their time with friends and family, they didn’t really get chance to sample the delicious fayre! 

“The morning of the wedding was probably the calmest of my life,” explained Nikki.

“I had my make-up done at 8.30am, then my hair at 9am, while my mum and dad pottered around and made bacon sarnies for everyone. My bridesmaids and I were actually dressed and ready half an hour early and enjoyed a glass of buck’s fizz while we waited for the cars to arrive – it was all just so lovely and relaxed.

“The wedding ceremony was great and all the little touches made it very special – from my Zumba ladies coming along to wave to me as I entered the church, to the beautiful music of our jazz quartet during the photos, and the very emotional serenade from my best friend during the register signing (which resulted in us both hugging each other in fits of tears!).

“Bill and I made a big entrance to our wedding breakfast in French style, dancing around the tables with all our guests waving their napkins to welcome us in, all to the music of the Gipsy Kings. The atmosphere was wonderful and stayed that way throughout the whole two days.

“We had really poignant moments, including my dad’s emotional speech, offset by moments of absolute comedy.

“When our ‘drunken waiters’ appeared, my brother turned to me and whispered in a concerned voice ‘look at that fella staggering all over the place’. I had to say ‘don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan!’.”

In the same vein, the couple’s first dance was to ‘I will’ by The Beatles, comically followed by ‘Apache Indian’ by Will Smith and ‘Can’t Touch This’ by MC Hammer. “Everyone knows that Bill can’t dance whereas, given my previous career, I can, which made this selection of songs particularly funny,” added Nikki.

And the whole, dreamy, event ended at midnight on the Sunday with the couple’s closest friends and family sitting, drinking, on the garden decking, wrapped in fur throws from the ski lodge and watching a sudden cloudburst of rain from the comfort of their cosy spot.

“I couldn’t have even imagined everything going so perfectly,” continued Nikki. “I can’t wait to get our video back so that we can re-live the occasion and see all those special snippets put together.”

Nikki and Bill had such a wonderful time that they have asked us to pay special tribute to everyone who contributed to making their wedding such a wonderful, special occasion:

  • Ceruttis – catering
  • Bamboleo Band – Gipsy Kings tribute band
  • Jamie Bulloch – make-up
  • Suzanne Barnett – hair
  • Jonny Hepbir Jazz Quartet – jazz ensemble                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Colin Cook – DJ and wedding presenter
  • Louise Pepper – flowers
  • Cherry Williams – event dressing
  • The Event Music Company – who sang and entertained everyone by pretending to be waitresses and guests
  • Marry Me Films, Forever Memories – wedding video
  • Insight Photography – photography (with Andrew Crozier).
  • East Riding Vintage – cars
  • The Convenience Company – portable toilet suppliers
  • Black Event Furniture – as the name suggests
  • Weddings by Julie – event planning support.

…And of course, Village Farm Marquees – overall event planning and marquee!

You can read the first part of Nikki and Bill’s lovely story here .

Here at Village Farm we don’t just build marquees, we can take care of your entire event planning to help you remain as calm as Nikki about the whole thing. Recommending suppliers we know will deliver great things, making sure everything happens when it is supposed to and troubleshooting any niggles are all part of the service.

For a free, no obligation initial chat about your wedding vision, call us on (01262) 468160 or email us .

By Village Farm Marquees 26 Jul, 2017

Clearly, we do marquees, but what a lot of people might not realise, is that we work with a variety of venues too, to enhance weddings and other events taking place in their grounds.

And this means we are constantly on the look-out for attractive new venues we can work with.

In Heaton Mount’s case, we were absolutely blown away by what it has to offer.

Nestled in the grounds of Bradford University’s award-winning Faculty of Management and Law, you would never have any idea you were in the heart of such a major city, as Heaton Mount is surrounded by idyllic landscaped gardens, in its own oasis of tranquillity.

Built in 1864, it is the former home of a wealthy 19th Century wool merchant Robert Kell who helped to make Bradford the centre of the UK’s woollen industry, it exudes the opulence so typical of residences of this nature.

Sales Manager Clare Bradnam shared her hopes for the venue, and the new collaboration with us at Village Farm Marquees.

“Heaton Mount is a beautiful, historic mansion in its own grounds, with big views and lots of greenery,” said Clare.

“We can accommodate up to 80 guests in the house but we’ve been looking for a high quality and trustworthy marquee company which can help us accommodate bigger events for up to 200 guests. We’re delighted to have found Village Farm Marquees.”

As a result of this new-found relationship, we’ll be working in collaboration with Heaton Mount as it looks to build up its portfolio of weddings and other events over the coming years.

“The house provides a beautiful and unique venue – including 45 rooms of on-site accommodation too, allowing hosts and their guests exclusive use of the house and grounds.

“Up to now, though, it’s really been quite a hidden gem, whereas we have ambitious plans to change all that and widen the number and types of events we offer, with the support of VFM as one of our preferred suppliers.

“For example, we expect that this could include more mid-week weddings, which can offer greater flexibility in terms of both availability and cost.”

Chrysta added: “We were in awe when we visited this venue, as it’s a really unique and magical place. There’s something about it that really gets under your skin.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of all that history and grandeur for a day, and enjoy a truly unforgettable occasion.”

The Italianate Heaton Mount is set within private grounds with winding driveway, quintessential English croquet lawn, immaculate lawns and terraces. It is located to the north of Bradford, in the leafy suburbs of Heaton, just two miles from Saltaire and two-and-a-half miles from Bradford city centre.

It offers 15 different event spaces, that can accommodate between 15 and 200 people, and in addition to the on-site accommodation, also includes an ample amout of guest parking.

The house has been sympathetically refurbished and retains attractive Victorian features including a stunning double staircase, perfect for the preamble to any wedding.

A modern extension in the grounds also contains comfortable en suite accommodation which means wedding or party guests are able to stay on-site. Access to the Faculty of Management and Law’s state-of-the-art lecture theatre makes it an ideal choice for corporate events, team builders and expos as well, outside term time.

Anyone inspired by this blog can find out more about what Heaton Mount has to offer here . Either Clare on (01274) 234485 or Chrysta/Sophie here at Village Farm Marquees, on (01262) 468160 will be delighted to help.

And if Heaton Mount isn’t quite what you’re looking for, but you’d like our advice on other, equally stunning options, don’t hesitate to call or email us .

* Photos courtesy of Stuart Towers

By Village Farm Marquees 01 Jul, 2017

Hornsea Carnival is a lynchpin local event that has grown in size and popularity over recent years and plays a vital role in knitting this particular East Coast community together.

Yet many people don’t realise it relies solely on fundraising, and the absolute dedication of its team of organisers, who go out of their way to make it happen year-after-year.

One such is Ruth Skinner, who has been on the organising committee since 1996. She believes this year promises to be a record year for the carnival. After attracting 20,000 visitors in 2016, the Live Music event will run for an extra night this year, and Ruth hopes that this will help to increase the attendance. 

We are one of the many  businesses that try to support the carnival, in our case by offering our marquees at minimal cost. 

Ruth is appealing for eleventh-hour sponsorship from other local businesses, to get them over the line with the £16,000 cost of running the free community event.

“We’re not looking for thousands, by any means,” she said.

“Actually, just £50 to sponsor a banner advertising their business can make all the difference to us.”

And Ruth and her Carnival Committee colleagues also have a specific request for a car to place in the middle of the arena to be jumped by Flyin' Ryan, a motorcycle display team who will be appearing for the first time this year. This. she says represents a fantastic branding opportunity for the right business. 

There will also be live music tents on both the Friday and Saturday nights, for the first time ever.

Lots to look forward to

Other entertainments include:

  • The highlight Carnival Parade
  • Dog displays by the H and M Dog Display Team
  • Falconry displays and bird of prey handling by Eagle Eye Falconry
  • The Clwyd Axemen performing wood cutters
  • A circus workshop by Circus Whizz
  • Craft and local produce marquees
  • Children’s rides
  • Food and refreshment stalls
  • A firework display on the Friday night
  • Cookery demonstrations by well-known local chef Steph Moon, of All Things Food, including a cook-off with Rob Porter, from the Michelin-starred Green Room in Scarborough.

Ruth added: “Last year was a record year but we’re hoping it will be even busier this year, given the additional entertainments we have and the number of holidaymakers flocking to the area – particularly if the weather stays as fine as it has been.

“We’re hoping the 2 nights of music and refreshments will help us to draw in an additional kind of audience this year.

“Last year was good, with around 20,000 people coming along, but we’re hoping we can increase that by at least 20 per cent this year, and hopefully many more.”

She added: “We’re so grateful for the support of so many local businesses, from Village Farm Marquees who have provided our marquees since 2014 at minimal cost, to Hornsea Town Council who give the permission to use Hall Garth Park, and Hornsea School who allow us to use their premises for the preparation and start of the parade

“Without their support, we couldn’t run this wonderful, free community event year-on-year, which acts as such a catalyst for bringing people together and celebrating all that’s fantastic about our town and surrounding region.”

Village Farm Co-director Chrysta said: "The Hornsea Carnival is a fantastic, free community event and Ruth and her team do an amazing job of fundraising and pulling it together.

"We try to support them by providing our marquees for stalls including food and crafts, at minimal costs. We hope lots of other businesses will come forward and get involved, and  benefit from the fantastic promotional opportunities the carnival has to offer."

Dubbed ‘A celebration of culture’, this year’s event will run in Hornsea’s Hallgarth Park from Friday 21 July to Sunday 23. Its focal point will be the Carnival Parade, which will run through the town’s main street from 12.30 on the Saturday.

Any businesses wishing to find out more about the sponsorship packages available can contact Ruth on 01964 534580.

By Village Farm Marquees 01 Jul, 2017

So, you’ve decided you want to have a marquee wedding – now what?

Firstly, congratulations on making this choice. We know we’re just a little bit biased, but it will be wonderful!

Enough of that, though, let’s get down to the practicalities.

We find that, very often, couples who come to see us feel a bit bamboozled by the ‘technical side of things’. They know what kind of wedding celebration they want and can picture it in their minds’ eyes (which, incidentally, we believe is by far the most important thing).

But they don’t know where to start when it comes to questions like ‘what type of marquee should we have?’, ‘how big does it need to be?’, ‘what colour scheme would work best?’ and ‘what sort of furniture options do we have?’

We’ve shared ideas for some of these things in recent blogs, and will be covering many more such topics in the coming months. However, for now, let’s look at the most basic of these questions – ‘how big?’

Things to consider

The first factor to consider is your venue. Are you just having a marquee in a large outside space? Or are you going for a blend of indoor and out, by tagging it onto an existing venue? These are important considerations as the amount of space you have available, and the facilities on-hand, will dictate the size of marquee you need.

Next, and perhaps most importantly of all, you need to decide how many guests you want to invite. Start with your wishlist and then work out how much of it is feasible based on the amount of land, and budget, you have available.

As a rule of thumb, each three metre by three metre marquee section is enough to house a round table, capable of seating 10 people. So, to fit 100 guests in a typical round table format with a top table, you will need a space measuring nine metres by 12 metres. You then need to allow space for your bar, your DJ/band and your dance floor. This would equate to a nine metre by 21 metre marquee. And if your catering company will be preparing your wedding food in situ, you will need to check with them what size of add-on space they need for that.

To house a relatively large event with 150 to 200 guests, we would recommend increasing the width of the marquee to 12 metres as this avoids creating a tunnel effect. Again, you can work out the space you need in the same way as above

You also need to think about the flow of your event. For example, do you want to create a quieter area, sectioned off from the rest, for older guests to mingle peacefully? Or, do you want a special kids’ area to keep them entertained? Maybe you want to have a ‘reveal’ in the evening and keep part of your marquee sectioned off until later in the day, to maximise the impact. This can be a nice touch also for making your ‘day do’ feel more intimate, if you have less guests during the day than in the evening.

Once again, we would always recommend a site visit so that we can tailor marquee plans that maximise the space you have available and accommodate your vision.

By Village Farm Marquees 30 Jun, 2017

It’s the last thing you really want to think about when planning your dream event, but considering what could potentially go wrong is a vital component, according to Julie Orrell.

The seasoned wedding planner said that – very often – it’s having a ‘Plan B’ that can make the difference between a perfect and a not-so-perfect event.

 With 18 years’ project planning experience – the last five specifically organising weddings and other events – she’s seen, firsthand, what pitfalls can arise. She shared some of the most common ones she witnesses, and her advice for avoiding them.

  #1 Not having a budget in mind

“I advise people I work with to decide what their budget is and allow a 10 per cent contingency fund on top,” said Julie.

“To arrive at their budget, they need to consider their financial situation, obviously, but also what other spending priorities they have for the future. If they’re a couple getting married, for example, do they need a deposit to buy a home, or are they planning a family and need to save for that?

“Do they want them or their families to get into debt to fund the event, or is it more important to them to cut a few luxuries out and have peace of mind about the cost before, during and after?”

There are some important practical benefits to having that starting point in mind, too.

“Once you’ve decided on your top line figure, it then pays to break that down into smaller components, like venue or marquee hire, and catering, and attach a maximum amount to each of those.

“This helps when it comes to negotiating with individual suppliers over the various elements, because you know what your limit is. And if you do decide to splash out a bit more on something you really want, you can see in black and white that you need to claw the excess back from elsewhere.”

She added: “The most vital components of any wedding are the venue, the catering and the photography, as they make it possible, create its ambience and record it for posterity. For these reasons, my advice is always to prioritise those. Everything else is a nice to have and once you’ve got the essentials sorted, you can start to think about the other ingredients you want to include, for example your entertainment, your flowers, your furniture and decorations, and whether you hire a stylist or DIY it.

#2 Trying to please everyone

“There are lots of people involved in a wedding and too often I see couples trying to please everyone,” continued Julie.

“This is usually things like inviting children to the event when they really want it to be adults-only, so as not to offend their friends. However, in my view, if someone is a true friend, they will respect your wishes. It’s so important for you to do what you want, as it’s your memories you are creating… whether your vision involves a wedding abroad, a registry office or a big church ceremony.

“When couples come to me and they are getting stressed about managing their event preparations, with all the conflicting demands that brings, I always urge them to sit down, take a breath and remember why they are getting married. Ultimately, they are doing this because they love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together, and that’s what matters at the end of the day, not meeting other people’s expectations or creating an extravagant look that you maybe can’t really afford.”

#3 Getting carried away

“Some couples start with an idea about the kind of wedding they want and then quickly get out of their depth when they start to research the myriad of options they see on the internet and in magazines… or they succumb to peer pressure.

“Some rush in and start buying things like decorations straightaway and, before they know it, they have a dining room full of stuff. Which is great, but taking a little time to eliminate certain elements and consider things a little more carefully can help keep things real.

“For example, if they concentrate their budget on the most important elements, they might find that their venue or stylist will provide some things free of charge. They might even be able to create some aspects themselves, to save a bit of cash. For example, collecting attractive glass jars to display their outdoor candles in, and recycling instead of shelling out to buy new things.”

  #4 Not having a Plan B

“For every wedding or other event I run, I always have a contingency plan, and I can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s so important to think about everything that could potentially go wrong, and have a plan for what you’re going to do about it if it does.

“It’s not about being negative, but it could avoid unplanned, negative occurrences from spoiling your day.”

Here are Julie’s top contingency considerations for every event:

  1. The great British weather: let’s face it, there is always a chance of rain, so having a gazebo or a set of umbrellas to hand could save the day if that chance turns into a reality
  2. Suppliers not turning up: The best mitigation for this is to choose the right suppliers in the first place, through recommendation and testimonial. A truly professional company will be as committed to making your big day a success as you are, and will not let you down. So choose the right people to help, and then either call them yourself a week or two before your event, to make sure everything is as it should be – or make sure your wedding planner does that for you. It’s important also to make your requirements of everyone from your caterer to your band or DJ, really clear beforehand, documenting your expectations in a list if that makes you feel more comfortable about it. The best suppliers will give you absolute confidence that you can leave them to handle all the key arrangements on the day
  3. A breakdown of key services like power, water or toilets. Make sure that if your generator fails, or you suddenly have no water for some reason, you have the means to source an alternative power supply from somewhere else, or somewhere to send your guests to, to answer the call of nature
  4. Cars breaking down: Make sure you’ve got alternative modes of transport lined up to ensure your key wedding party members make it to the church on time, no matter what.

#5 People getting carried away at your post-wedding party

 …and drunken shenanigans ensuing: To avoid this, I recommend assigning roles to trusted friends and relatives, to keep an eye on what your guests are up to and help restore order if needs be. You could also ask your bar provider to stop serving anyone they believe is the worse for wear, and start giving them water instead.

  #6 Starting your day too early

 Remember that weddings are long, tiring occasions. If you don’t want your guests to run out of steam and head off home by 10pm, it’s important to start at an optimum time and then make sure that you avoid dead time and give them things to do at each key point of the day, for example offering them canapes and a bit of musical entertainment while you’re having your photos done. Personally, I believe the optimum time to get married is between 1pm and 2.30pm, so that there’s not too much waiting around between the key milestones of your day and your guests have the energy they need to keep going until the early hours if needs be.

#7 Not videoing your ceremony

Nothing captures an event better than moving footage but a lot of couples forget to capture their big day on film, so that they can actually see their ceremony for themselves afterwards. After all, they’re in it and therefore don’t get the same view of events as their guests! A lot of couples are put off by the potential cost of having a professional videographer, but even having a guest video their ceremony on their mobile phone can be just as effective – just something they can look back on and also show to their children down the line, as the day when Mummy and Daddy got married

#8 Not taking time out during your wedding day to simply enjoy it

You need to watch your friends and family enjoying what you’ve created. It’s so easy for couples to get so embroiled in ‘delivering’ the day, that they forget to make the most of it. However, it’s such a shame if that happens and I would always urge them to make that time to just soak it up and lodge those important memories in their minds forever

#9 Worrying for no reason

Worrying really is pointless. Instead of doing that, put your energy into anticipating what could go wrong and taking steps to avoid it.

#10 Not prioritising your caterers

Your food is such a central element of your event and can make or break its atmosphere, so choosing the right kind – whether that's a hog roast, a formal sit-down meal, or a great big sharing paella – is vital. It’s really important to choose both the content of your main and evening meals, and the caterer that will serve it in the right way. Also, don’t forget to check the practical points, such as whether or not they have a high enough hygiene rating

#11 Not preparing a seating plan

I’ve overseen a couple of weddings where couples have decided to keep things informal and let their guests sit where they want to, but in reality this doesn’t really work. If you have a couple of guests sit down at a table for 10 and no-one else is prepared to join them, this can create no end of issues for your caterers and the general flow of the event. You might not think people would decide to be difficult on an important day like your wedding but, believe me, it does happen. The best way to avoid it, is to consider beforehand who will get on best with who, and then place them where you would like them to sit.

Julie Orrell has run her own event planning business, Weddings by Julie (soon to be renamed WBJ Events) for the past five years. Prior to that, she was a management consultant, overseeing major projects for some of the biggest names in financial services. She decided to set up her own event planning company in order to balance working life with bringing up her young family. Her heavyweight corporate experience helps ensure that every event she touches runs like clockwork, though.

  At Village Farm Marquees, we can organise as much or as little of your day as you want us to, involving trusted suppliers like Julie to make sure all aspects are covered.

If you’d like to discuss your vision and how we can help, why not get in touch at , or by calling (01262) 468160.






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