Delapré Abbey is hosting more weddings than ever before and now that there is bridal accommodation as well as options to get married in the gardens, on site enquiries and bookings have increased ten-fold. Let’s talk all things weddings…
Roaming alpacas, ring bearing puppies and singing waiters – just a few of the many ‘added extras’ couples tying the knot at Delapré Abbey have requested for their big days.
Coordinating weddings means we have to be absolutely brilliant at keeping secrets. A wedding venue also has to be prepared for the unexpected – no two weddings are the same. Oh, and the golden rule is to always, always make sure that the couple are absolutely oblivious to any challenges that may arise on the day.
Just a few weeks ago one of our brides, just one hour from walking down the aisle, discovered half her dress was still at home hanging in the wardrobe. Not a problem. While I encouraged the bride to continue with her hair and makeup (“don’t panic”, I said, “this is not as unusual as you might think” – mmm, not quite true but necessary to keep the bride calm) I spoke to guests and arranged for one of the party to make a little detour.
With just minutes to go the bride slipped into her dress, met with the registrar at her allotted time (registrars work to a strict schedule which is why delays are rarely possible on the big day) and walked down the aisle at exactly 1pm, the scheduled start time.
When a bride secretly called me to request singing waiters the proviso was that her groom was to be kept in the dark. So, while our chefs put the finishing touches to our carefully curated dishes the sweet-sounding waiters hid in the wings … ready to serve up not just the appetisers but also a performance-filled menu of music.
Nothing is impossible if a couple really want it and we love making dreams come true. This year it’s been even easier and enquiries have soared. Our new accommodation suite – a cottage in the Abbey that had previously been used as offices – was given a dramatic makeover and is now an elegantly decorated bridal suite, complete with a master bedroom, a purpose-built dressing room, second bedroom, picturesque views of the Abbey, a downstairs kitchen and dining room and even a private garden overlooking our walled garden.
A wedding booking tends to start with a call and visit. Couples come in, look around, fall in love (with the Abbey!), chat about budgets, and then contact the local registrar’s office to discuss dates. Once it’s all booked the real fun begins.
I supply our couples with menus and a check list of things they might need/want or simply dream of needing! We do tasting sessions and, once they have selected their final menu, couples can send out their invitations, asking guests to typically choose from one of two starters, two mains and two desserts.
Some couples visit us just once or twice in the lead-up to their big day, while others just love popping over regularly so they can picture their special day and soak up the atmosphere in both rain and shine.
I’m often asked about flowers, decoration options, entertainment and even dresses and stylists. Although we don’t have a preferred suppliers list we do recommend companies we have worked with a lot, people we really trust.
Our very first wedding was in 2016, even before the Abbey was open to the public. One of the very first couples to tie the knot were our bee keepers, who run Applegate Organics. At one of our most recent weddings Applegate Organics provided bespoke, branded wedding favours – jars of honey with printed tags and seeded, plantable cards. The inscription was as sweet as the contents of the jar ‘love as sweet as honey’.
Our attention to detail is flawless. If we have everything covered and react and respond promptly and confidently, the wedding will work like clockwork.
Our new on-site accommodation means at least one of the couple can stay at the Abbey the night before their big day. To date, five brides have stayed and relaxed overnight, soaking in the atmosphere of their venue while strolling through the Walled Garden. They have woken up at their wedding venue, enjoyed a continental breakfast and enjoyed masses of beautiful, bonding girly time.
The thing we get complemented on the most is our is our attention to detail. We may run around making things perfect, but our couples most certainly don’t.
One of our most recent weddings saw Ryan and Megan tie the knot – the worthy winners of our Wedding with Thanks competition – which we launched at the start of covid to celebrate and thank our hard-working key workers. This phenomenal couple had the most incredible day with us.
As the summer unfolds our phones keep ringing and bookings keep coming in thick and fast.
We keep our house closed to the public on Fridays and Saturdays so that wedding guests have the space totally to themselves. Typically, because of our packed calendar of events, we have a maximum 25 weddings a year. We only have a couple of dates left this year, have 16 confirmed for next year and another eight who have almost confirmed.
Find out all you need to know about our weddings here: https://delapreabbey.org/weddings