If you are thinking of holding your special day at one of our venues, then our range of wedding events will allow us to show you how we can help bring your ideas to life.
With a collection of architecturally stunning four star country house hotels across the UK and Channel Islands, Hand Picked Hotels are renowned for hosting weddings. Our experienced teams host over a thousand weddings each year and every one of our hotels offer glorious grounds, exquisite interiors, fine dining and excellent service, to ensure the perfect British wedding experience.
Hand Picked Hotels are passionate about creating bespoke weddings, tailored to suit you and your needs, which is why we offer wedding open days and evenings, fayres and individual appointments to ensure you do not miss a single detail of your big day. We caught up with Holly Satchell, Senior Sales & Event Coordinator of Buxted Park Hotel in East Sussex, to find out more.
How did you get into the wedding industry?
From the age of 15, I knew I wanted to do events – I was always the most organised one out of my friendship group. After leaving college, I worked in the corporate side of things for a company called The Conference People for one year and then in May 2013 I joined Buxted. We are obviously a very wedding focussed venue, so I ended up doing it by default but I realised very quickly I was good at it and really enjoyed it.
How would you describe what you do?
I coordinate everything, from the initial enquiry, to showing couples round the venue, and sending the contracts. I am their point of contact from when they book until the day of the wedding, at which point the operations team take over. I provide support for them, answering any queries they may have throughout the entire process. I got married last year, so I am now able to give a different aspect to the job, which has been nice.
What is the favourite part of your job?
I get to meet so many different people and from all walks of life. I have built up good relationships with couples, and it is lovely as we keep in contact via email and I get to see them every so often when they come to the hotel to celebrate an anniversary.
Please can you tell us what couples can expect from a wedding appointment?
At our appointments, a wedding coordinator sits down with the couple and goes through various questions, such as when they are looking to get married, how many people they want to invite, whether they want a civil ceremony or were hoping to get married in a church, and so on. We would then give them a full tour of the hotel and its grounds, including all of the function rooms, where we explain what we can offer and capacities, together with a few of the bedrooms. The rooms are not made up so it gives you a blank canvas to visualise how it could look on your wedding day. At the end, we offer refreshments and go through the packages, look at availability and next steps. After setting a date, it then goes onto the planning stages.
The appointments are taken at your own pace and typically last between one and two hours, are available seven days a week, and we try to be as flexible as possible, so every hotel offers evening appointments (up until 18.30pm) which are typically Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
It’s a good idea at this stage to have a budget and also ask about specific inclusions, as every package is different and not every venue offers the same things, so for example table linen, chair covers, napkins and glasses. Room hire is another thing that catches couples out. At Buxted, and most of our hotels, we offer a per head price which includes room hire, as well as food and drink, but we have heard from some couples that other venues exclude these costs when listing wedding breakfast options.
Please can you tell me what couples can expect from a wedding open day?
At all of our wedding open days, we get one of our recommended suppliers to decorate our venue, so couples can envisage how a room will be set for ceremonies and receptions. Upon arrival, we register the details of every couple and give them an arrival drink together with a brochure and all the information they need. Couples then have the opportunity to tour the venue, we keep a range of bedrooms open so they can get a good idea of the accommodation and we have two wedding coordinators on hand in the function rooms to answer any questions. We try to hold an open day or evening every month, which are normally Sundays 12pm to 4pm and Thursdays 5pm to 8pm respectively. This is an opportunity for couples to invite friends and family to get their input.
Please can you tell me what couples can expect from a wedding fayre?
So an open day is what we would recommend for couples who have not booked their venue, and a wedding fayre is for those that have, and is a chance to meet most of our recommended suppliers to get an idea of what they do. We have up to four representatives from each sector that might include for example, bridal shops, photographers, florists, cake makers, entertainers, make-up artists and hairdressers, décor specialists, car hire companies – basically a whole range of professions covering all aspects of planning a wedding.
Our wedding fayres run from 12.30pm until 16.00pm on a Sunday, twice a year in February and October. We do not charge and offer the opportunity to register, but to be honest a high percentage of the footfall are people who walk in on the day. Some of our vendors set themselves up in the function rooms, so couples can expect live music, photobooths – there is even the chance to play with fun money at a casino and win a bottle of champagne.
Again, the rooms are not made up, but our ballroom, which offers great flexibility and has the capacity to host 120 guests, has a few tables to give couples the idea of what a wedding breakfast might look like. We also offer wine and cocktail tasting – as couples have the opportunity to create personalised cocktails for their special day, and pass around our canapes. How can couples benefit from attending one of your wedding events?
Our wedding open days probably offer one of the biggest benefits as it gives couples the chance to look round and get a feel for a venue, but also see it set up so they can get an idea of how it might look on their wedding day. From there obviously they can set up an appointment and go through all of the finer details. We would always recommend these events to couples unless they are very confident of the venue they would like to book.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning?
Make a to-do list. I have seen many couples who get half way through the planning stages and not really know where they are. At the beginning, it is all really exciting when you get the venue booked and then there’s a bit of a lull where people don’t do much and they’ve forgotten what they have and have not done – and a having a list of all the different things you need to do is really helpful.
Also, I think it’s important to get vendors booked early on in the planning process, in the five years I’ve been here I’ve seen many couples leave it really late to get photography and flowers by which point some of the best suppliers are booked up. That way you can relax for a little bit and gives you a bit of time to focus on other bits and pieces of the planning. Some couples also leave it very late to book a time slot with their local registrar – the entire day is planned around the ceremony, so it is very important to get this booked early on in the planning process.
Then I guess another good one is try not to pander too much to the requests from guests. I have seen so many couples get upset and worried about various different people of the wedding party making certain requests about food and drink. Sometimes people forget their wedding day is about getting married and they almost lose sight of what they wanted in the first place. I have seen couples make their day around other people rather than the two of them – I think it is important to keep focused on why you are doing it.
Also pre-planning, which touches on what I said earlier really – get as much done as possible in advance and delegate to the wedding party so you can enjoy the build-up and the last few weeks leading up to your special day, as trust me it goes so quickly.