Venue Problem

I’ve returned our wedding contract to Brandon.  Our dedicated wedding planner, Joy,  contacted me to introduce herself.  She also mentioned that the Woodland Suite is for minimum 100 guests and she will swap us to the Brandon Suite……

……..  

Erm…. we’ve never been shown the Brandon suite as a reception room.  What a shock!  I didn’t handle it well at all.  I hate it when things don’t go to plan, especially when it’s an oversight by a professional.  I freaked out and sent Joy about five emails detailing how shocked and disapointed I am.  Telling her that we had always had our current estimated guest numbers and had only ever been shown the Woodland suite.  I snapped at Alex because I could hear him laughing with work colleagues, which I took as not being bothered (which I felt/still feel bad about). 

Joy sent me an email suggesting that we visit her. We have options available,  the Brandon Suite and the restaurant (which is actually a beautiful room).  Joy has reserved all rooms for our date until we’ve met. 

Now I’ve calmed down, I’m not actually too worried.  I love Brandon for the feel of the venue.  No other venue came close.  We have options to consider. One of which is really lovely.  Plus! The most important point.  It’s a lovely venue but what will make it special is the wedding itself.  A good wedding is about the ceremony itself and the company. 

We are due to visit Brandon in the new year.  Date to be arranged. We originally planned to visit 21/12/10, the snow was so bad we had trouble getting out of our drive! 

What have I learnt?  That I need to take a breath and think through the situation before I react (good plan for life in general).  Also,  Alex and I are here to support one another.  He only acts in my best interests so cut him some slack.  Finally, to keep in mind what I want from my wedding day: Alex to turn up and say I do, our guests to be well fed and to share in our happiness.

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The Little Things

Following a suggestion from my H2B, I’ve set up a new email address:

smith.sarah2012@gmail.com

I’m not using it yet.  It’ll be good to have a mailbox free of Wedding spam! 

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Venue Acquired

H2B’s parents came down to Birmingham.  Along with my parents we all went to visit Brandon Hall.  I was really nervous.  It was a relief that the all liked it.

We’ve now paid the deposit, therefore making our provisional booking a full booking.  

We’ll be getting married 7th July 2012 at the Brandon Hall Hotel.

We’ve even booked our rooms for the day before the wedding, plus our parents have also made reservations.  We’ll have our family with us for a meal the night before.  Can’t wait!

Now we can relax. No more traveling to venues and constant emailing, pricing up and spreadsheets.   I blew off a little steam last night with a, ahem, few glasses of wine.  I’m currently recovering in a hot bath. 

We are going on holiday to Vienna in five days,  now that can get the attention it deserves!  

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The Last Venue on the List

Our final appointment was with the Abbey Hotel in Malvern.  It’s a lovely hotel right next to Malvern Abbey (I mean so close it looks like they are connected).  Inside was a slight disappointnent for me. It was nice, but not in keeping with the grandure of the exterior.  The breakfast room was nice. It had a huge glass roof!  It was a little scruffy, but workable.  The ceremony room was very 70’s and would need a lot of dressing. 

We were shown a second room which was huge. It was situated in the 1970 extension.  I thought it was very dated and scruffy, but H2B liked it.  Again, if we had large numbers it would be workable.

All in all, it’s now our #2 venue. 

Our parents are looking at Brandon Hall on Sunday. Assuming there are no issues,  our wedding will be held there on 7th July 2012.

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Venue hunt continued

One weekend, three venues. 

1)  Rowton Castle

I made two huge mistakes with this one!   Firstly, I booked the viewing for 9am. We had to leave the house at 8am.  My H2B was not impressed.  We hosted a fireworks party the evening before. It didn’t finish too late. But still, a few more hours of sleep would have helped!  

Second mistake. I misread the wedding brochure. You had to take the exclusivity package, which added a further £6k to the cost.  It was massively out of our price range.  Needless to say, it was beautiful.  I felt terrible,  we travelled all that way to be teased by a lovely venue. 

2)  Ettingtin Chase Hotel

This one was near Stratford-upon-Avon.  There was one original building that looked almost church like. There were also three times as many modern buildings.  The modern buildings were in keeping with the old building style, however it did put my off slightly.

Inside was a mix of old and new. It was neat and tidy, however the function rooms were tatty.  The hotel was going through a refurb.  I’d like to see it after it’d had been redecorated. 

It didn’t, in my opinion, match up to Brandon.  Its a definite second place.

3)  The Mill Hotel

Where to begin.  My H2B and I left this venue with so many concerns.  Our main concern was that it was likely that there would be three weddings in one day.  Going by room capacity, one would be similar, perhaps slighty larger than our wedding. The other would be double the size of ours.  It was explained to us that each photographer would be given a set time for pictures.  That makes me worry about the weather.  What if there is only one sunny hour and someone else has it?  Also, how many bridal suites and bedrooms are there? 

Another problem was the room choice.  One choice was two very attractive connected rooms.  We wanted one room for evening entertainment and seating.  The other room was larger, self contained and had a stage and bar.  Only problem was that it was dark and badly decorated.  Our final main problem was that they were undertaking building work end of 2011.  They couldn’t tell us if it would be finished by the time of the wedding. 

No no no.

When we’d finished, we went for a surprise visit to Brandon.  It was lovely to see it in the daytime.  I still really liked it.  We also spoke to a man who was setting up the banquet suite for a wedding. He talked us through the table layout and we could see the dance floor and dj box.  Exciting stuff!!

We’ve provisionally booked Brandon for 7th July 2012. We’ll take our parents to see it 14/11/10.  Assuming we don’t prefer the Abbey hotel (only one left to see) this will be the one.  Exciting!!!!

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The venue hunt so far…

After pricing up what must bt every civil ceremony licensed building in the West Midlands, we have a short list of affordable venues.

I’ve made appointments to be shown around, all are booked within a two week period. 

Here’s what we’ve seen so far:

1)  Manor Hotel

A lovely building, however the brochure gives the impression of it having a lovely garden.  It had a small bit of grass (very well kept I must add) on a main road.  It was car park front and back.  Unfortunately not what we had in mind.  The staff were friendly and the building was nicely maintained.  The function room which would hold both ceremony and breakfast was huge.  For our numbers it’d feel like practically no one had turned up!  

2)  Hillscourt Conference Centre

The venue up the road!  I couldn’t tell you why, but I really like the idea of getting married up the road.  Perhaps it’s because we’d drive past it frequently?  Anyway,  not likely to happen.  Hillscourt was always a long shot.  The wedding package is very reasonable. I’ve also been told that the food is spectacular.  However,  as the building is a conference centre,  it’s very functional.  It’s in the Lickey Hills and had a beautiful garden but the building looks like a hospital.  It was a shame, the staff were also really keen and helpful. 

3)  The Curradine Barns

A bit of an unknown.  I’d requested information from them but they’ve never sent a.brochure. I’m always suspicious of places that avoid giving you a tariff.  They sent details of an open day they were holding, so we went along out of curiosity.  The barns had been beautifully converted and had a clean and modern feel. However, despite being in the middle of nowhere, they only had a small courtyard for outside space.  They displayed some wedding photos taken there and it looked a little scruffy.  Also, there was the issue of tariff.  We were right to be suspicious.  To just hire the venue would eat up 40% of our budget.  The food was also very expensive.  All in all, lovely place just not for us.

4)  Brandon Hall Hotel

Bit of an odd one this.  I was looking for a website of anothet venye to arrange a viewing, a picture of this place popped up in an advert.  It’s a very attractive, slightly quaint ex-hunting lodge over Coventry way.  The last three viewings left me feeling disappointed, also worried that our budget wouldn’t allow us to have the type of venue we’d imagined.  When I saw the Brandon Hall Hotel I was over the moon!  It was an elegant white building with an art decco feel.  It has lovely grounds and feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere.  Inside, the building was neat, elegant and neutral.  If you haven’t guessed already, I fell in love with it.  I could almost imagine the day when we were being shown around.  As the sales staff were not there, we couldn’t talk availability. I’ve since emailed them and they have lots of dates free July 2012, I’m just waiting for availability June and August.  

One concern,  they have been slow to answer my emails which leaves me slightly concerned.  Lets see how it goes!

As much as I love Brandon Hall, we are still looking at the others on the list. They will have to be of a high standard to better Brandon.

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One more bridesmaid and the great venue hunt!

Good news!!! I have one more bridesmaid. I was fretting about budget etc and went against my instinct and asked just two of the girls I had in mind.  It didn’t quite sit right, when I asked her and she accepted, everything felt complete.

Wedding party complete.  Now begins the great venue hunt.  A combination of joining a few wedding websites, plus signing up to nearly everything at the National Wedding Show, I’ve a huge collection of brochures and ebrochures.

The agreed requirements for the venue:

1)  Able to hold a civil service

2)  Have accommodation for me.    & H2B,  my Mum & Dad plus the.    in-laws.

3)  Reasonable accommodation nearby for our guests.

4)  A nice garden/grounds. Preferably with a terrace area for drinks outside (optimistic weather wish)

5)  No too big!  You lose all atmosphere with a half empty room.

Armed with the criteria and a wonderful spreadsheet that allows us to price up the venues, I’ve whittled the numbers down to 8 prospective venues. 

We’ve taken a look at two already.  The first one was a beautiful building (hotel), but was on a main road with little to no grounds.  That was a disappointment. And also a lesson that the brochures can be misleading.

We need to make appointments for about six more venues.  I’m always on the lookout for more.  Now I try not to form too stronger opinion until we’ve actually seen the place.

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