NEWS

By Village Farm Marquees 23 Nov, 2017

When was the last time you hired a band? Unless you've been responsible for booking live entertainment before, it's likely that you wouldn't have a clue where to start! Here at Village Farm Events we have a secret weapon in our armoury in the form of York agency Electrifying Promotions, which provides quality party bands suitable for an array of events including weddings, parties, corporate gatherings or basically any do where live music is required.

Electrifying Promotions will work directly with you to ensure you choose the most appropriate accompaniment for your event. Gill Mallon, who runs the agency, has years of experience in the business and can help make sure you hit all the right notes with your musical choices and don't end up with an empty dance floor.

Here Gill gives us some sound suggestions to keep the party atmosphere flowing, whatever the occasion.

A helping hand

"Planning a major event such as a wedding can be overwhelming, and it's understandable you'd want all the help you can get. Booking a DJ or a live band can be daunting, it's not easy to know the right questions to ask or where you stand with negotiating the price when it comes to music," said Gill.

"Agents like Electrifying Promotions can offer a cost-effective and convenient way to take some of the pressure off your shoulders. We can save you hours of research by listening to your needs and narrowing down your options based on your preferences and budget, without you having to spend ages looking through pages of information. We will deal with the musicians on your behalf and handle the payment so you're not digging around for cash at the end of your special day."

  Get the party started

"Here at Electrifying Promotions we currently have 30 bands on our books, covering a broad range of styles from rock and funk, pop and disco, soul and Motown, to opera and swing. Whatever your tastes, you can pretty much guarantee we'll have something to suit you!

"Choosing a musical style is usually the main priority, and you may need to think about your guests or audience too, not just your personal taste, but there are also practicalities to consider relating to the venue - how big is the area where the band will be? Is it large enough to accommodate a five-piece band with drum kit and amps or would you be better off looking at an acoustic duo? Does the venue have any noise restrictions such as a sound limiter?"

A sound limiter is a devious bit of kit that will cut off the power supply to the band if they get louder than the maximum decibels, which is a major party pooper, and is one of the first questions Gill will be asking.

She continued: "With weddings, it's a good idea to think about not just your evening reception where most couples like to see all their friends and loved ones having a good knees up, but also other parts of the day where you might enjoy musical accompaniment, perhaps an operatic aria in church or some gentle guitar strumming at the wedding breakfast."

Bands on Electrifying Promotion's books tend to do two 45-minute sets, but something else to consider is the 'inbetween' times - options include having a DJ to cover this, or loading up an iPod with background played over the band's amp. Some bands might be able to cover these periods themselves with more low-key sounds.

Gill also recommends looking after the band members: "The musicians need time to set up and pack away so they are often there from 6pm to gone midnight. They do work hard and really appreciate being fed and watered."

Can I pick the playlist?

Gill explained: "Most bands prefer that you select the songs from their playlist which you definitely do and don't want, then leave them to structure your choices into a workable order. People sometimes make the mistake of thinking they need to work out exactly which songs they want, but really you just need to establish the style of music you want and the sort of atmosphere you'd like to create, the band will do the rest.

"It's important to choose the right act for your music choices, there's no point expecting an act to play a song that's totally removed from their musical style.

"The band will need to consider a number of variables in order to ensure their sets flow well and they will know which songs within their repertoire are dance floor fillers. Feel free to make an input but let the band bring their experience to bear when finalising the actual playlist."

A final word of advice from Gill: "Plan ahead! Please don't leave your booking too late, sometimes we can pull things together in three weeks but it's much safer to book up to a year in advance."

 

We're thrilled to be working with Electrifying Promotions and really value Gill's immense experience and personal touch. If you'Sd like to a free, no obligation chat about your musical entertainment needs, contact Village Farm Events on info@villagefarmmarquees.co.uk or (01262) 468160.

 

 

By Village Farm Marquees 23 Nov, 2017

For quite a few years now, many couples have ventured overseas to warmer climes to fulfil their nuptials, often accepting they'll have a very limited number of guests present due to the additional expense incurred with flights and accommodation.

Photos of brides paddling barefoot in the crystal clear sea with white dresses floating on the sultry breeze are a familiar sight but how often have you attended or admired photos of an outdoor wedding here in the UK? Well if you're currently drawing a blank, this will probably change sometime in the near future as outdoor weddings in good old Blighty are becoming increasingly popular!

Couples can be forgiven for not knowing where to start with planning one, given very few venues have licences for outdoor weddings. The inclement climate in our green and pleasant land might seem like another barrier, but here wedding planner extraordinaire Helen Davies explains how holding your dream wedding in the great British outdoors might yet become a reality.

Let's go outside

The British Isles are much admired for their beauty, from golden sands, to lush hills and valleys, peaceful forests and fabulous manicured grounds. There is literally an abundance of scenery and wildlife across the entire land, even your average back garden can be a wonderful haven of tranquillity.

"There are all sorts of reasons more and more couples want to get married outdoors," said Helen. "Some might feel a deep connection with nature, some might just not want any kind of religious aspect to their marriage, some might not like the formality associated with a traditional wedding in a conventional building and want a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

"The idea of exchanging vows in a beautiful or favourite outdoor location, even in your own garden, is becoming increasingly appealing. I think it also allows you to truly express yourself in a very creative way as there isn't a set way of doing things, you have so many options.

"It's the things that people do to personalise their wedding that make it so memorable for them and their guests, and holding it outdoors is a sure-fire way to ensure it's unforgettable."

But what about the legalities?

It's true, there is only a small selection of outdoor wedding venues where you can legally marry in this country - weddings in the UK have to be in a licensed building which must meet certain criteria.

But don't let this put you off, there are ways and means to deal with this challenge! "The simplest solution is to cover the requirements separately by visiting the registrar to obtain your marriage certificate. This is very low cost and you only need two witnesses present, and they don't even need to be people you know. This could be done at any time before your actual wedding," explained Helen.

"You can then hold your celebration at your chosen location, with your guests in attendance. You will need a ceremony conductor and can get help with writing and designing your ceremony, it can be completely personalised to your wishes, including the words you exchange as you commit to each other," she added.

Helen can help take the pressure off the bride-to-be by dealing with the additional factors that come into play when looking for an outdoor wedding venue. She can assist with choosing an outdoor location, assess its suitability, and seek permission to use it. "The couple might know exactly where they'd like to hold the wedding or they might just have a loose idea around it being in a woodland, or a garden or close to water, even on a beach. I can help them scout for locations that would work," said Helen.

But what about the weather?!

As with any outdoor event, there are a number of potential pitfalls to plan for, not least the predictably unpredictable British weather!

"It's probably best to plan an outdoor wedding in our warmer, drier months. Nobody wants to see guests shivering in a sleety November and it's unlikely the bride wants to be slipping around a wet, muddy field in February," said Helen. "That said, it's still possible to encounter an unexpectedly cool breeze or shower in the middle of August, so it's about being prepared - do you need to provide rain ponchos, or even wellies? Or maybe pop some cosy blankets on the seating that people can snuggle into?"

Alternatively, if we are struck by a sudden heatwave, you might want to supply guests with insect repellent, sunscreen and bottles of water.

Helen added: "Other considerations to take into account include parking, toilets, access for suppliers such as caterers and entertainers, and hiring electricity generators. Think about the decor and lighting too, which can create a stunning effect in an outdoor setting. Also, can you offer overnight accommodation for guests? Upmarket glamping or even old-fashioned camping might be a possibility.

"I believe an outdoor wedding is the ultimate way to express yourself and create the most personalised experience possible, I really do love helping couples plan these very special days."

In terms of the reception following the ceremony, a marquee usually goes hand in hand with an outdoor wedding. Village Farm Marquees has a multitude of options that would complement an outdoor ceremony, whatever the theme.

By Village Farm Marquees 23 Nov, 2017

What a lovely day we had in Leeds showcasing our stunning marquees at The UK Wedding Event ! We were absolutely overwhelmed by all the lovely couples we met.

It was such a treat to work with so many passionate suppliers to create such an amazing wedding atmosphere.

The UK Wedding Event is a family owned business operating from Leeds, specialising in events, website design and videography.

Husband and wife team Rob and Emma host a number of these bumper wedding fayre extravaganzas each year where more than 100 exhibitors showcase their services to visitors travelling from all corners of Yorkshire and beyond as they plan their wedding day. All the events are held at attractive locations and with an even spread of exhibitors to give couples plenty of choice for their big day.

Couples have all options catered for, with top suppliers from a range of leading industry professionals in attendance. The Leeds event was held at The Centenary Pavilion at Elland Road, on the outskirts of the city, and offered easy access from the motorway with free parking to boot.

All the couples received a free goody bag on arrival along with a glass of bubbly to help them kick-off a fun and rewarding event in a positive fashion.

We worked with some fantastic suppliers to create a stunning wedding marquee, so if you are planning a wedding or event check out some of the guys in the list below:   

By Village Farm Marquees 23 Nov, 2017

Although we often spend time with a client in the lead up to their event, sensing their anticipation, excitement, and sometimes their nerves, we rarely witness the actual celebration ourselves. So it's always a pleasure to listen to our clients' recollections when we return to pack away the marquee and we get to hear about the joy (and the occasional tears) that accompany these special occasions.

One such client is Nicki Hepworth, from Great Hatfield in East Yorkshire, who hired a Village Farm marquee for a dual purpose back in August this year.

When the wind blows

Nicki was due to celebrate her 50th birthday and knew she wanted to throw a party for her friends and family that they would all remember for years to come. It simply had to be a belter of a knees-up, so a marquee was the first thing on her shopping list.

She said: "I chose Village Farm Marquees for a few reasons - they're local to me, their prices are competitive, and my first impression was they just seemed so professional."

Nicki admits that she did move the goalposts somewhat as the size of her guest list began to expand, finally resting at the 100-mark. She said: "I had a rough idea of the size of marquee I'd need but we had to size up as the guest list grew. Village Farm were brilliant about that, they gave me lots of advice and were really supportive. Changing the marquee to a bigger one wasn't a problem at all."

Something that was worrying Nicki was the weather: "It was a very windy day and the marquee was in quite an exposed place, I wasn't sure if it might take off! It was secured really well though, and thankfully the wind died down by the time the party was due to kick off in the evening."

The marquee was erected, fully lined and carpeted the day before the event to leave plenty of time for Nicki to complete her birthday decorations. She'd also organised catering via a quirky pizza van and music courtesy of a DJ to keep people in the party spirit, all comfortably housed within the marquee.

"I wanted a 1980s theme and my son and I had given the DJ our own playlist of 80s hits," she added. "My favourite memory from the whole party is just seeing so many people filling the dance floor with great big smiles on their faces!"

 

By Village Farm Marquees 27 Oct, 2017

It's always a pleasure to meet a new client to see how we can help them and this was the case recently when Wyke Sixth Form College in Hull approached us with a fresh challenge!

 Here Tony, our co-director at Village Farm Marquees, explains how we worked together to create a bespoke indoor marquee solution that gives the college a cost-effective resource which can be used again and again.

Sports hall transformation

"The college had previously always hired freestanding marquees but decided it would be better value and much more flexible if they could have our own equipment that would enable them to put up a marquee lining and flooring in the sports hall, then pack it away and store it, whenever they wish," said Tony.

"At Village Farm Marquees we pride ourselves on really listening to our clients' needs and providing bespoke solutions rather than off-the-peg packages, and this is what clinched it for Wyke College.

"Wyke had looked at a few different providers, then chose us because we devised a credible solution that suited their needs.

"We designed it using a semi-framed structure, which makes it easier for them to manage the assembly themselves than it would with a full frame system."

By Village Farm Marquees 27 Oct, 2017

Lincoln Christmas Market is one of the biggest events in many independent traders' calendars, which this year will take place from December 7-10, and it's certainly a must-do for one of our long-term clients, Westmorland Sheepskins.

We've had the pleasure of working with Howard Heaton and his family-run enterprise for a number of years now, providing marquees for their attendance at the prestigious Lincoln event plus many other markets and shows across the country.

Howard set up Westmorland Sheepskins over 30 years ago, specialising in genuine sheepskin, wool and leather goods. An offshoot of his grandfather's 130-year-old business, Heatons of Leeds, he has been in the business since the day he was born and knows what he is talking about when it comes to trading in raw skins and materials (he can tell you where a sheep hails from at first glance!). A Yorkshireman through and through, he won't stand for any nonsense when it comes to product quality and neither will he fleece ('scuse the pun) his customers - his prices represent excellent value for guaranteed quality that is, quite honestly, very hard to find these days on the high street.

We spoke to Howard about his approach to business and why quality is so important to him.

By Village Farm Marquees 27 Oct, 2017

‘More challenging than I could ever have imagined’ and ‘simply breathtaking’

By Village Farm Marquees 26 Oct, 2017

You might already be trying a number of different marketing tactics to get your business noticed, but have you ever considered putting on a corporate event? Handled well, they can be a surefire way to capture attention and make a knockout impression on key audiences including staff, stakeholders and potential customers.

Planning an event is undoubtedly a resource-intensive exercise, so you need to choose wisely when to do it. However, get it right and it can leave a lasting impression and build the kind of relationships that will keep clients and business contacts coming back to you again and again.

That's where we can help. Village Farm Events might be a brand new arm of our business, but it comes with years of experience, know-how, and most importantly, a closely guarded little black book that's bursting with contacts.

Our event planner extraordinaire and (owner of said little black book) Helen Davies knows all the secrets to success. Helen has become widely known for her talent as a wedding planner at the famous Rise Hall, the venue run by TV property star Sarah Beeny, but before this she spent years honing her corporate event management skills at a major corporation.

That role saw her managing huge events across the UK and Europe, catering for thousands of attendees. That said, don't worry if the event you have in mind isn't quite this grand - Helen is equally capable of supporting organisations with small and intimate gatherings as well as large-scale multi-day conferences.

Helen said: "My contacts list is a very valuable commodity, it's what helps me add value for my client by making the whole planning process so much more efficient. For businesses, time is money, and I can make significant savings for them on both counts."

Helen's recipe for event success

So what makes for an unforgettable event that leaves people buzzing for days, as opposed to one where visitors and delegates nod off after lunch or, even worse, slope away before a tray of limp-looking canapes are served? Here are our top five tips to get you started:

  1. Ensure you begin with a very clear vision of the event's purpose - what would success look like? Without a clear objective your event could be a waste of money with very little attraction for prospective attendees 
  2. Who are your intended guests - is it staff, stakeholders, existing customers, potential new customers, the general public? If you want a decent turnout you need to know your audience, and target your content to them
  3. What is your budget? You don't necessarily need to throw a small fortune at an event, but be clear on how much cash you are willing to spend and stick to it
  4. Theme and content - think outside the box, be interesting, be engaging and consider building something that people just couldn't experience anywhere else, to encourage them to come along. After all, who wants to spend a couple of hours, let alone a full day or two, feeling like they're watching paint dry! Consider activities and workshops, impress with showy audio-visual techniques, book a sought-after guest speaker, hand out fun promotional giveaways that will assist with brand recall long after the event. Bringing your messages to life should never be boring and needn't be expensive either
  5. Think media - is the event newsworthy in itself, will it garner you some positive PR in local or trade press? Is there an element you can add in that will whet their appetite? Also, use your own social media channels to promote the event in advance, create interactive activity with guests during it (remember to give it a hashtag!) and reflect on its success afterwards.

Creating lasting benefit

According to Helen, number one is the key priority: "I like to sit down with my client and discuss the purpose of the event, and ask them questions like 'what is the experience they want to create?' and 'what results are they looking for?'

"No company has money to waste on bringing people together for the sake of it, there has to be a purpose. If you're investing money and time in taking people out of their jobs for a day, you have to make it worthwhile."

She emphasises the need to make it something people believe will be worth attending, and will talk about positively afterwards. Another tip is to think carefully about providing a bar, especially a free one: "Everybody loves a good party but we'd like to avoid people behaving unprofessionally where possible. A free bar can be a major draw to get people there but it can also lead to disaster."

Team-building events remain popular with businesses of all sizes as a highly effective method of improving team work, understanding team dynamics, and focusing on company vision and values. Helen's advice is to think creatively about activities that will encourage people to engage fully in the spirit of the event. "There are some amazing options for team building, and getting people to work together in ways they wouldn't usually," she says. "There are also practical considerations to bear in mind such as if the event is being held in a remote or rural location, is it still important to have wi fi? And do you need any audio and visual aids?"

Our Village Farm Events service is available with or without marquee hire. In fact, it's completely flexible - Helen can contribute as much or as little as you wish, ranging from full planning and management from start to finish, recommendations of creative concepts and supplier options, or just on-the-day management of your event.

There's a lot to think about with a corporate event and that's where Helen, along with her little black book and the rest of the Village Farm team, can really help to take the weight off your shoulders.

If this blog has inspired you to organise an event to promote your business, you can download our 'Your Perfect Day' event planning and pricing guide for more information, of get in touch via info@villagefarmmarquees.co.uk or (01262) 468160.

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 by TV property icon Sarah in 2001 and renovated in a blaze of publicity. Helen established its place as an award-winning venue and increased its annual list of weddings from 17 to 40.

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