Our complimentary Wedding and Occasions Fair is this Sunday 24th January. Katie Foulds our Special Events Co-ordinator is always on hand with top tips and here she advises exactly what you will find this weekend. We hope to see you there!
If you have a special day in your life coming up soon, come and visit us at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa. This weekend for our Wedding and Occasions Fair on Sunday 24th January 2016 you will be able to personally speak to, and view, our large range of suppliers who will be more than happy to discuss your event, as well as the chance to view all of our private dining, event and wedding spaces.
Between 11am and 3pm the team at the hotel will be on hand to take you through every detail involved in making your special occasion a success, whilst offering a taste from the kitchen as our Head Chef Kelvin Johnson provides canapés for your visit. Once you have spoken to the suppliers; our experienced events co-ordinators have created a goodie bag for you take home for you to browse through the possiblities for your occasion.
Our suppliers range from professional pianists to wedding dresses, with some of them including Adam Hillier Photography, Mark Fish Suits, Beau Events chair covers, Harrison & Green florists, Shake disco and lots more. All our suppliers have been specially selected by us to ensure they really cut the grade.After all we want to ensuer that you event exceeds your expectations and requirements for the most satisfaction on the day of your special event.
When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.
When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.
Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.
Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.
The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.
It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!
And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!
It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.
Choosing a wedding venue is a source of great enjoyment – but also can be one of the most stressful and difficult decisions of the occasion. Our Special events co-ordinator Katie Foulds gives a few tips – her first in a series of top wedding tips – to help you plan the perfect day.
When it comes to choosing a wedding reception venue there are of course a lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration. This can be very overwhelming to a couple and I often speak to brides who simply don’t know where to start.
The best place to start is for you to sit down and work out what type of reception venue you are drawn to. Are you interested in historical properties such as a country manor, castle, period hotel, or stately home? Maybe you’d prefer a barn style venue or even a marquee. I advise writing a list between you and your partner of what you’re looking for from a venue, such as: high ceilings, natural light, outside space, traditional features etc. By starting at this point you can easily eliminate the types of venues which don’t appeal to you both. This will instantly make the venue finding process easier and a lot less time consuming.
The next thing to do (if you haven’t already) is to plan your guest list. Knowing how many guests are attending your wedding reception will help eliminate down the venues that are too small or even too large for your needs. Having a number in mind also helps the venue quote for your wedding.
If you plan to hold your wedding ceremony at a different location from your wedding reception try to look for venues within a radius of a thirty minute drive from your chosen location.
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a list of approximately ten, get in touch with the venues and organise a show round with the wedding co-ordinator.
When making your first enquiry always give the venue the following details:
You and your fiancé/e’s full name
The number of guests you’re interested in having attend your ceremony and/ or reception
A date if you have one (if you don’t have a date, a rough month and year will always help give you an accurate quote)
Giving these details will mean the wedding co-ordinator at your venue can give you a quote as accurately as possible to your requirements and budget.
Whether by using scrap books, pinterest or spreadsheets find a way that suits you to get organised. Keeping a plan of everything helps you to stick to your budget and prevent costs from spiraling out of control. Even a simple checklist will help you to keep on top of what could otherwise feel like an overwhelming list of things to do.
Keep calm and carry on
Planning your wedding should be an enjoyable experience for you both. Try not to let things beyond your control get on top of you, and remember no one can order the sun to appear on cue so just don’t worry about it.
Create a timeline and make sure your top priorities are in first and plan everything else around them. Things like venues, entertainment and florists can get booked up quickly so make sure you arrange the things that are most important to you first.
Listen to others.
But remember ultimately your wedding is a day to celebrate the start of the next chapter in your lives together. Trying to include everyone’s wishes can be stressful. Try to relax and listen to the ideas of family and friends as this will be appreciated especially if they are contributing financially. Listen and take on board what they are saying, but ultimately the decisions are about you as a couple. So if suggestions are being made about things that just don’t work for you both, make sure you mention this early on.
Budget, budget, budget
I really can’t say this enough. Setting a budget is a really important thing to do right at the beginning of planning for your day. You may have always known what your dream wedding will look like, or you may have only just started thinking about it since getting engaged. Either way creating a budget and planning your wedding according to what you can afford is really important. Don’t be tempted to overspend on credit cards or getting loans as this can make a stressful start to married life. Create your budget and make the decisions on where to splash out and where to economise together.
Please call us on 01635 551199 to book your VIP tour and to discuss how we can help you to plan your special day.
At Donnington Valley Hotel we provide a diverse range of rooms to hold your ceremony and your wedding breakfast. We can cater from 4-140 guests, no matter the size, and we have a very experienced team who will look after you right through to your big day.
The hotel is surrounded by captivating views of our golf course which are perfect for photographs for your special day. From bridges and water features to stunning sculptures the photo opportunities are endless.
We still have some dates still available this year and we are offering some great deals if you book by the end of March 2015 – Act fast, you do not want to miss out.
Try before you buy!
We offer all potential couples a complimentary lunch for them to sample our cuisine before you make your decision. Our restaurant is both intimate but yet informal, with Head Chef Kelvin having over 20 years of experience there will be something that will get your taste buds going!
Come along this Sunday 25th January for our wedding Fair. This is a great opportunity to see the hotel dressed for a wedding and meet a range of suppliers. We will have some great offers on Sunday which you would not want to miss out on! Come take a peek at what Donnington Valley hotel have to offer for your magical day!
We know that weddings are not just a summer event and here at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa, we have all the facilities to accommodate your wedding from January to December. With 111 bedrooms and special accommodation rates for your guests, we can make your special day a special occasion for everyone involved.
From start to finish, we will help and guide you through to your big day, allowing you to make your dreams into reality.
For more information on our wedding packages and how we can make your big day special please call our wedding co-coordinator on 01635 551199 or visit our website www.donningtonvalley.co.uk/weddings.asp
There are so many things to think about when planning a wedding – most often planning your wedding entertainment isn’t going to come top of your list. The essentials of hiring a photographer, a florist and even a chair cover supplier most often comes higher in the pecking order especially when you’re on a tight budget. It was just the same for me when I got married!
As a wedding pianist with almost thirty years of experience, I am bound to make the case for setting aside a proportion of your wedding budget for live music during your big day. The ‘thank –you’ cards and e-mails I frequently receive a few weeks after a wedding bear testament to the fact that live music on the day, whether during your civil wedding ceremony, drinks reception or wedding breakfast, really impacts hugely on the day itself. Research suggests that when making preparations for their upcoming weddings, couples leave entertainment at the bottom of their priority list. It’s often a question of seeing how much is left in the budget when all other wedding ‘necessities’ have been accounted for. However, when researchers have asked the same couples several months on which part of their wedding day they remember most, live entertainment comes pretty much to the top of that list.
So getting it right when it comes to live music on your big day is important. Good music sets the mood for the whole day and it’s worth spending a little time researching what might suit you best, whether it’s a harpist during your ceremony, a string quartet during your drinks reception, or, dare I say, a pianist during your wedding breakfast! The two places I would certainly recommend looking first would undoubtedly be the ’recommended suppliers’ list at your wedding venue and, of course, the internet.
Because wedding venues tend to be choosy about which suppliers will be listed by them as ‘recommended’, you can be relatively confident that the musicians they have listed will have worked at their establishment many times before, are professional in their approach and above all are reliable. Musicians themselves know the huge value of a personal recommendation from a wedding venue and will be keen to maintain that relationship.
Musicians tend to be poor at ‘self-promotion’ even in the days if the internet. However, a quick search will soon bring up musicians covering your area as well as surrounding areas. Good musicians don’t grow on trees so don’t be surprised if they are based out of the area you’re getting married in, most cover a wide area. The ‘serious’ professionals to be found on-line will have audio and video clips to listen to and watch as well as testimonials from satisfied wedding couples they have previously played for. Whist you can’t always believe everything you read on-line, most working wedding musicians who have an on-line presence tend to be ‘bona-fide’ professionals who take seriously what they do.
Some wedding couples are a little surprised at the cost when they receive a quote from professional musicians to play for several hours during their wedding. However, it must be remembered that what you are paying for is many years of cumulative musical expertise which has often taken a whole working career to hone and perfect. What you are paying for cannot be viewed in terms of an hourly rate to perform for you on your big day only, it’s the time they’ll have taken to prepare, rehearse and perform material beforehand which has to be considered. As a rule, the better the musician the higher their rate is liable to be. Don’t be put-off hiring ‘real’ musicians however, their price is rarely higher than a DJ pro rata and the difference they will bring to your wedding day will almost certainly be immeasurable. It might be the only time in your life you’ll have the occasion to hire the services of a real musician or musicians to play especially for you, to play the songs you have requested or which have a special meaning to you. It hardly needs mentioning that to have live music played as a bride walks down the aisle adds a completely different dimension to a ceremony – recorded music played on a CD simply doesn’t compare!
I’ll conclude by mentioning a recent wedding I was booked to play at. As I arrived to set up to play the piano during the reception I heard, in an adjoining room, a string quartet start playing the first few bars of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon In D’. I then watched as the bridal party processed down the aisle to the beautiful music and I looked at the guests faces as they passed by. Despite having played at hundreds of wedding ceremonies myself, the whole spectacle made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! Live music has the power to do that.
One thing I learned very quickly when I started working with brides was that you may think you know what a typical wedding day looks like but there are a million different ways of doing it. Don’t get me wrong, at Donnington Valley we love a big white wedding but what if that isn’t for you? Lots of the couples I speak to are looking for something different and these differences are critical to making the day a success for them.
If you hate… Formal Dinners Why not have a later ceremony at 4.30 followed by a Champagne and canapé reception and then go straight into your evening party, instead of spending your money on the meal splash out on a band and offer your guests an extra drink (or 2!).
If you hate… Big Evening Dos Why not have a ceremony followed by an afternoon tea, enjoy the time with your guests and call it a day at 6pm. Perfect if you are jetting off on honeymoon of want to have a Sunday wedding. Sundays can be a great day of the week to chose if you have a tight budget, as often pricing is more flexible on a Sunday.
If you hate… Table Plans Every brides enemy! The politics can be endless! Why not consider a slightly less formal 3 course meal. Let guests seat themselves for a plated starter and have a hot buffet, main and dessert – this is also a great way of giving your guests a choice of food that might not be possible with a more formal menu
If you hate… Big White Dresses Think outside the box! Some of the most stunning brides we see have been true to themselves and stuck with their sense of fashion, wear a 50s style shorter dress with some fabulous shoes, add some colour, check out the mother of the bride section or look for a little black number
If you hate… That You Have Done it Before We get lots of brides and grooms these days who have been married before. The best way to handle it is to accept it as part of your past and try not to draw comparisons. Remember that at least half of your guests won’t have been at your first wedding and that everyone is there to celebrate your day, they are just delighted to see you happy. Work with your new partner to make it a day personalised to the two of you and it will, without trying, be a very different day.
If you hate… Big Crowds Who said you have to invite your Mum’s cousin’s uncle and their 5 children? Make your guests list your own, be strict with who you want to invite and make sure you are comfortable with your numbers. All you have to have legally is witnesses so if you can’t think of anything worse than 200 watering eyes following you up the aisle then chose a venue with a small intimate room for the ceremony – you can always have everyone join you afterwards when the celebratory champagne has settled your newly married nerves.
If you hate… Speeches Don’t do them! Its your wedding, do it your way! Why not ask the best man to put together a slide show of the stag night or a video message. Bridesmaids are always dying to create a photo album of the bride as a child so why not have a table dedicated to this along with a guest book, then all your friends can enjoy your dodgy hair cut history without standing you up in front of anyone to do it!
We love a good wedding at Donnington Valley and we’ve seen them in all shapes and sizes, and each and every one was memorable and perfect for the couple.
To discuss how we can help you to create the wedding day of your dreams give me a call to arrange a VIP tour of Donnington Valley on 01635 568106 or click here for more information.
Ok so it was a little unconventional having a wedding fair in the middle of the season, but what better way to get brides soon to be wed excided for their days and meet some new brides at the same time.
There were a few regular faces from the suppliers, which we were delighted to welcome back. Harrison and Green Florists wowed our visitors with a lovely stand and beautiful table dressing in the Cromwell, along with chair covers from Elegance and a cake form Cakes by Katie B to finish off the look.
Amongst the (dare I say it!) old faces we were delighted to welcome some new faces too, with this being the first visit from local ceramics artist Sophie Waite, with her lovely table favours, and Laura from pretty in Crystals, making anything you can think of sparkly and fun.
With Brides always looking for ever more unusual ways to keep their day unique having such a great range of stands gave everyone some great new ideas and inspiration for their day.
Music could be heard throughout the hotel from Richard Sully the pianist, setting the mood on the Mezzanine, to ‘Got it covered’ kicking off the party in the Cromwell.
Live music is having a great boost this year with increasing numbers looking to buck the wedding disco trend. When booking your band ladies do remember that recommendations are important, always find a time to meet or hear your group and give them your song, soon enough they may just learnt it for you, to give you a really special and unique moment for your first dance.
I would like to thank all the suppliers and guest for making it a successful day. visit our website to find out more information on weddings at Donnington Valley Hotel.
How long have you worked at Donnington Valley Hotel? In total around five and a half years. I started working as a reservationist and then moved into events starting off with literary dinners and comedy nights. That carved the special events role and incorporated special events and weddings.
So did you always want to be a wedding coordinator? It wasn’t something that I set out with a plan to do if I’m honest, but having spoken to people who have known me in the past they have all said that it suits me down to the ground. Although its not quite as glamorous as in the movies, its something that I love doing. I do however wish I had one of those belts like Jennifer Lopez in the film. A portable brides emergency kit if you like, my desk drawer has to serve as that for the time being.
What’s the best part of your job? Probably being instantly part of the family. For the time leading up to the wedding I am closely involved with not only the bride and groom but also their parents and sometimes the bridesmaids and ushers. Its that relationship that I am able to build with the couples that really makes my role so unique.
What is the most unusual request you have had from a bride? I’ve had a few requests that I’m not sure should really be put into print! One time that does stick out in my memory was when a bride was so nervous I walked her into the ceremony room a few times, before her guests arrived, to help her to feel more comfortable and to practice walking up and down the aisle without tripping over her gown. Its all about ensuring that the bride, groom and their parents are comfortable on the day. People sometimes forget that the couple’s parents can be just as nervous as the bride and groom!
A little birdy tells me that you are getting married yourself this year? Yes I’m getting married late spring. To be honest I don’t think it will feel real until I’ve got the dress on.
So how is planning your own wedding different to what you do everyday? At the moment its not! The only way that I know how to plan a wedding is how I help my brides. So I have it all laid out exactly the same way. Although there are extra bits that our brides tend to organise themselves which I keep forgetting. Ordering the wedding cake being a prime example.
So you must be the dream bride for your wedding planner. Um yes and no. I think I’m an equal mix of delight and nightmare! We’ve got much of it all planned out and exactly as we want it but because I’ve helped so many brides I have a very set ideas about what I do and don’t want for our wedding.
Whats the one piece of advice you would give you your brides and are you following it yourself? There are a couple of things I would say that I’ve learnt from experience. Firstly, if you don’t want to listen to people’s opinions then don’t ask the question. Secondly its best if family are contributing to the wedding, speak to them early on to see what their expectations are. It saves a lot of time and arguments in the long run.