I’ve been pretty quiet on the news front of late - well haven’t we all! Since the excitement of the Roadmap announcement, it has just been a case of ‘digging in’, waiting for the roll-out of the vaccinations to take effect, and watching with bated breath to see if the numbers on the daily graphs fell.
Immediately after the announcement, I was flat out re-arranging dates for our existing couples - some of whom have moved at least twice before - and taking enquiries for new couples desperate to come and have a look around. However, with all the paperwork complete, a strange sort of limbo has descended as we all try to contain our excitement at the prospect of being able to get out and about again and anticipate a fabulous summer ahead.
This afternoon I have been down at the Barn planting Nepeta, or ‘catmint’ as it is more often known, and that’s given me the chance to reflect on what a very strange couple of years we have had!
The photo above was taken exactly two years ago today, a beautiful crisp morning, much as it was today. At that point, we were in a similar sort of limbo as now, because we were gearing up to our very first ‘paid’ wedding! Having had our own daughter and son-in-law’s celebrations at Harefield Barn in the previous December, we were confident that the basics were all in place…. and worked. However Hettie and Sam weren’t bothered that there was no paving on the terrace, The Clock House wasn’t built, and there was no glass in the porch!
Between the December and March we had continued to beaver away to get things finished, knowing we had three lovely couples all booked in for that month, and trusting that we would deliver on our promises. So it was, that we found ourselves just a week away from the first wedding celebrations. We had prepared everything we could possibly think of, but sadly we couldn’t do much about the atrocious weather forecast!
In the end, our first couple, Paul and Nicole, managed to grab just a few photos outside, George and Laura had an indoor ceremony with confetti and photos outside, and just a week later it was hot enough for Amy and Mark to hold their ceremony and drinks on the terrace. And that was the start of our amazing first season.
If I said everything went perfectly, I would be telling ‘porky pies’, but we learnt quickly, and always found a way around the little glitches that came up. If someone asked me what my over-riding emotion was over that year, I’m not entirely sure I could pin it down to less than three; huge relief that we hadn’t made the worst investment of our lives, sheer joy that we were able to share our beautiful location and building with so many people, and utter exhaustion after several years of stress and hard work!
We took off on holiday to Cyprus for a well-earned break, feeling pretty satisfied at a successful year, and with enough bookings in the diary for 2020 to give us confidence in our ability to take our new business forward. What is it they say about ‘pride coming before a fall’? 2020 could not have been more different, stressful or strange, as we all struggled to make the best of a situation no-one could have planned or prepared for. Or at least we thought we had prepared a little by paying for Business Interruption Insurance only to find that our insurers were one of the companies who managed to wriggle out of paying on wording technicalities - enough said!
It has been a trying time, but it has been truly heartening to see everyone involved in the wedding industry come together as a group under such difficult circumstances. We have shared experiences, found ways of doing things, and learnt business skills we hadn’t realised we needed, and I’m sure that wonderful spirit will catapult us successfully into a very busy few years!
All I would say is that if you, or someone you know, is planning to get married in the next few years, get that planning hat on and get things booked! So many couples have had to postpone their weddings that the knock-on effect will last for some time, and I, for one, can’t wait to get back to the happy days of that first summer …roll on June!