Welcome to this week’s Supplier Story! ‘Supplier Stories’ is an original Bridebook Business article series, where we go behind-the-scenes and into the wedding world through those that know it best – the experienced and talented venues and suppliers across the UK.
So whether this is your first story or 10th, enjoy as we look into the industry as a whole, and celebrate a true story in itself! Who says couples have all the fun?
Today, we welcome Sarah – Marketing & Business Development Coordinator and daughter of the Heath Family. Heaton House is located on the borders of Cheshire and Staffordshire and surrounded by jaw-dropping and breathtaking scenery. From hosting annual concerts for well-known charities to becoming one of the most sought-after North West Wedding Venues – find out how this wonderful farm transformed after just one event.
So without further ado, Sarah over to you!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your team?
Hello! I’m Sarah Heath, the daughter of Mick and Margaret who run and own Heaton House Farm Wedding Venue, located in beautiful Cheshire, UK.
The three of us, and our pet Jack Russell, Jack, live here at the wedding venue where we literally eat, live and breathe weddings! We have a few cows and also my pet twin texel sheep, Gin and Tonic who now have their own little lambs, Lemon, Lime and Juniper. We also have our rare breed Swiss Black Nose sheep, Whitney and Tina.
We are joined by 50 members of staff from around the local area who do an amazing job in the office, events, housekeeping, breakfast team and laundry and we couldn’t do it without them!
2. Share the story of Heaton House Farm so far?
My parents have been involved with charity events for as long as I can remember and we used to host annual concerts in our cowshed for charities such as Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Research, all of which are extremely close to our heart.
One year, my dad was very eager to create the best possible acoustics as he used to be a mobile DJ, so he decided to hire a marquee lining to ‘soften’ the sound. A couple in the audience happened to be looking for a marquee styled wedding for their daughter who was living in London, but they didn’t have any land to host the event. They called us the very next day to enquire. We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, but we agreed! So, in June 1999, we welcomed guests to our first wedding reception.
The venue grew and grew from recommendations alone and in 2003 we came to the decision to diversify from being a dairy farm to hosting weddings in our barns full-time!
3. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the wedding industry currently?
Suppliers are such an important part of your wedding day and a lot of couples choose the cheapest or the first supplier they find at a wedding fayre but is important that couples do their research and find the good quality suppliers for their special day, that they gel with – gut instinct is key! I am devastated when I hear couples regretting choosing suppliers after the day as they’ve not provided a good service – please do listen to recommendations from other suppliers, we work with them day in, day out, and know what people are like from start to finish.
4. What wedding venue trends are you seeing in the industry?
A very popular trend this year is bringing the outdoors inside with lots of wild flowers and foliage beautifully decorated around our oak beams which looks stunning for when guests arrive.
It is also now very important to make a feature of the wedding cake, whether you have a 4-tier cake, a naked cake, a hanging cake or even a cake with a secret Marvel section. We love to help create the ‘wow’ factor for when our guests walk into the wedding breakfast as we ensure there’s a spotlight shining on it!
5. What is the biggest challenge you face on the wedding day itself?
We try extremely hard to make sure your day runs smoothly and to time. Once our couples have been in for a final meeting with their coordinator we construct a timeline and send this through to their suppliers and talk through timings with them. However, on the day this can sometimes not go to plan, for example when photographers sneak off with the couple to capture that perfect shot just as we are about to seat them for the meal! Haha!
6. How do you feel technology is changing the industry?
You would be surprised just how much technology has changed the industry, from the way in which couples enquire to the day itself – we find that over 50% of our enquiries are made from mobiles, so we are working on making our website more user-friendly. Social media has also had a massive impact on the wedding industry with speeches and first dances going viral!
Also, the suppliers have become a lot more tech savvy which helps both the couples and the venues that are hosting the day, if a couple decides they want a different first dance song it’s no problem as the DJ can download it within seconds!
7. What has been your biggest time saver this year?
A few years ago we began hosting experience events; these are exclusive to our booked clients. We invite hand-picked suppliers to showcase themselves, whether it is decorating the venue, or performing music, it also gives our couples chance to meet the person and chat face to face in a non-pushy environment. It has saved us many hours as a lot of couples used to come to the venue with their friends and family numerous times before their special day. More importantly, these evenings are a much more enjoyable experience with lots to do and see and more of an evening to remember as they enjoy a drink at the bar, listening to a variety of music, or being inspired by beautiful venue décor.
8. How do reviews affect the industry?
Over the last few years, when you would like to book a room at a hotel or visit an attraction the first thing people do is check site such as ‘TripAdvisor’ but lots of reviews to help make your decision as to where you go. It is exactly the same with weddings, it only takes a number of bad trip advisor reviews to put a couple off from booking that particular place so it is very important you gather lots of positive feedback. We’ve found that our couples are really happy to share feedback with us and even have #FeedbackFriday on our social media where we share a piece of feedback from that week.
9. How do you get to know your couples before the big day?
We like to keep in touch with our couples throughout their journey as it is important to be a helping hand whenever they have any questions whilst creating their perfect day. We meet with our couples on numerous occasions during planning meetings, experience events, final meetings and we are always available in the office as we are open 7 days a week.
10. What do you think makes Heaton House Farm unique?
There’s obviously lots of amazing little features we have, but the 2 standout features have to be the most amazing views, and the flow from one area to the next.
When you open the doors and lead out on to the patio, the land drops away from you and reveals the most stunning 3 county views with undulating and rolling hills, it actually takes your breath away. When we show couples around for the first time, we get quite a few happy tears at this point!
The other unique feature we have is that we don’t just have 1 room where the ceremony, meal and evening all takes place, and you have a couple of hours wait in-between whilst the room is being set up or refreshed by staff, we have a separate area for each, all interlinked, so your guests move seamlessly from one area to the next, so no waiting outside in the rain!
11. What do you think makes for the perfect wedding?
The perfect wedding is the wedding that the couple wants, doing exactly what they want, decorations that they want and not allowing friends and family to sway them to other things, it has to be your vision bought to life as it is your special day that only happens once so you need to enjoy every second of it!
12. What’s your favourite wedding memory?
Gosh! 18 years and thousands to choose from! I think nearly all of my favourite memories involve the moment just before the bride walks down the aisle and the ceremony. The excitement, the nerves, it all bubbles up at this point, and the second the music comes on gives me shivers, every single time!
13. What do you love about Bridebook?
Bridebook is such a pretty and easy guide to help plan the day of your dreams with a wonderful expert advice blog to answer all of the questions couples ask when planning their day.
A huge thank you to Sarah for sharing her Supplier Story.
Want to feature in your own Supplier Story? Get in touch with Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.