5 Questions with – Hanbury Barn

Photo of Hanbury Barn

Today is a very exciting day as I get to chat to someone I haven’t seen for a rather long time. A few years ago I performed at a lovely wedding in Derbyshire. The photographer on the day was someone I had not previously worked with. He captured some absolutely fantastic reaction shots from my performance, some of which appear throughout the site.

As time has gone on, he left behind the world of the wedding photographer and began a rather special project. Todays blog discusses this journey. I give you 5 questions with Hanbury Barn.

Please tell us who you are and how Hanbury Barn came to be?

The story of Hanbury Wedding barn is quite a long one, but I will try and give you the edited highlights!

I was a wedding photographer for around 9 years and the idea of opening our own venue probably popped in my head in the summer of 2016. It seemed like a logical next step from wedding photography to distil my experiences at hundreds of venues in to one we could craft ourselves. After discussions with the rest of the family we felt that we were in a position to start looking. The initial search took nearly a year to find the perfect place. We started close to home but rapidly expanded our search beyond Cheshire as it quickly became apparent that every farm there had already been renovated and had a footballer living in it. We were warned off the Peak District by our planning consultant, so we were mainly looking east of Sheffield and south of Ashbourne.

The criteria we were looking to meet was quite long. From a purely logistical perspective the farm had to have good access and no immediate neighbours who, quite rightly, would be upset by music and other merriment from the barns. Beyond that we wanted somewhere that needed renovation, had ample space, ideally open water, and tons of character.

The Search Continued…

After nearly a year of looking, in the late summer of 2017 we found Parson’s Brake Farm which ticked all the boxes. It had been empty for about 4 years when we first visited and nature had well and truly taken over. The barns were a good size and had a mix of classic Staffordshire red brick and more modern steel portal barns, however, the farm was going up for auction in September, so we had to move fast to secure it. After that, the next challenge was obtaining planning permission which took a little over a year to arrange and we finally got the go ahead to start work in November 2018.

The Barn in 2017

The build was challenging but we had great support from our family and friends. We managed the construction ourselves using my father in law Mike’s experience and my wife Kirsty’s brother and wife even moved back from Australia for a year to help out lending invaluable IT and hospitality expertise.

Our first wedding was June 2019 and we held 5 celebrations in the first six months which really helped us bed in. 2020 should have been our first big year with 60 weddings booked but, well, we all know what happened there!

Are you a venue only supplier or do you offer full event planning?

We are a venue only supplier, although we are always here to help with the planning. We offer a choice of approved caterers so there is a huge range of food available and the barns are laid out to be welcoming and inclusive. Each part of the day has its own space so there is no waiting for room changes, and this lends a natural flow to proceedings.

Hanbury Barn Wedding Venue

What makes Hanbury Barn different to other venues in the region?

There are a number of things that set us apart, I think the main one being we are family run. I think this makes an enormous difference to our couples.

Our couples often mention how nice it is to deal with real people rather than some faceless corporate entity. Also, the barns we have a unique, relaxed and welcoming feel. We very much appeal to couples whose focus is having a great celebration with their family and friends.

Share with us one of your favourite memories of the barn to date

During the construction I will never forget the moment the wall came down where the bifold doors now stand and we saw the view across the lake for the first time. Really that was the moment when it all started to come together, and all our hard work was starting to pay off.

As for our hosted weddings, it has to be our first one. It will always stick with me as such a joyous occasion, for both us and our lovely couple. It was a day full of fun and celebration, but was also such a huge learning curve!

What are your top 3 tips for a successful wedding day?

I would recommend having someone you can trust available who can delegate on the day. That way you can relax and not have to stress about the schedule, Go with the flow!

Its also very important to try and take some time just for you and your partner to enjoy the celebration. The day will go by really quickly, so take some time to just stop and take in the ambience. Finally, and this is an important tip, is when it comes to the drink, weddings are marathons, not sprints! I am sure you can read into that clearly. Over the years I have seen it all!

In Closing…

Hanbury Barn is a wonderfully unique wedding venue that has really charm. Adrian and his team have injected an old derelict building and transformed into into a place full of warmth and love. It is a venue that I thoroughly enjoy performing at, and it comes highly recommended if you are looking to get married in the Staffordshire / Derbyshire region. For more information please visit the Hanbury Barn Wedding website.

5 Questions with – Ian Dearman Media

Photo of Ian Dearman Media and their work

As I continue with this blog series, I meet up with long time friend and wedding supplier, Ian Dearman Media to discuss his approach to providing videography at weddings and events here in the UK. Ian is based locally in Nottinghamshire but serves events all over the country and sometimes beyond!

A Videographer isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of when planning a wedding. Why is it so important?

As a videographer I am looking to tell the story of the wedding day in a very natural and honest way. Every couple is unique, and so is their story. Creating a set of wedding films is an amazing way of re-telling their story and capturing their memories forever.

Being able to hear back the vows from the ceremony and the fun and emotion of the speeches is so important. Many of our couples have such a busy wedding day they can’t remember everything as it all becomes a blur. I create a cinematic highlights film that re-tells the wedding story. However I also create the full version of the ceremony, speeches and first dance as documentary edits.

Ian Dearman Media – Captures your wedding day naturally and in HD.

What makes you different to other videographers?

There are many who seemingly force shots at weddings. Ian Dearman Media isn’t like that. We aren’t interested in setting up dozens of ‘posed’ couple shots because it’s un-natural. It’s far more important to capture and tell the story of your whole wedding day. I like to keep the filming very unobtrusive and stripped back to the essentials. This lets me focus on the filming and capturing beautiful shots. I am also a people person and making sure my couples enjoy the videography process is very important. 

Whats your favourite thing about working weddings?

Without a doubt, once that cinematic film begins to come together in the studio, its so magical! To be able to capture such a special day and create an everlasting memory for the couple is so satisfying. I love not only filming the wedding and meeting the wedding party. But it’s an amazing feeling to deliver a stunning finished product to the couple. When the final cinematic film is played for the first time, its an amazing and emotional feeling. 

Ian Dearman Weddings

What are your top 3 tips for a successful wedding day?

I think my main tip is to remember that the wedding day is about celebrating your wedding with friends and family. There may be a temptation to book everything you can think of, but remember you don’t need to a crazy amount of extras that you see at some of the local wedding fairs. Get the basics right (Venue, Cake, Videographer, Entertainment) and everything else will just slot together nicely.

Another tip that I feel strongly about is to make sure the when your book your photographer, request that they must work with your chosen videographer (me hopefully!) A clash of interests can be a problematic for the couple which could impact on their special day. It’s vital that the day be captured naturally and as unobtrusively as possible. Nobody wants any additional problems on an already stressful day.

Finally I would recommend that even though there will be a detailed plan of your big day, you must be prepared for timings to change. In all my years of capturing weddings, I have yet to work a wedding and it not to have had timings change on some level. I would recommend couples have the mindset to be adaptable on the day. Just go with the flow and try not to stress out. It will be fine, it always is!

Whats next for Ian Dearman Media?

We have recently expanded the business out into dedicated sectors. The wedding side is now known simply as Ian Dearman Weddings and is looking forward to the busiest wedding year ever next year! I personally can’t wait for the challenge and am looking forward to a busy year of filming and studio time. The business as a whole however, is also growing fast and the team is getting bigger. The technology we use is constantly evolving and become more sophisticated, and staying at the forefront is vital for us as we go forward.

5 Questions with – Flower Barn

Photo of Flower Barn's work

Today I continue with a series of blog posts that sees me meeting up and chatting all things ‘weddings’ with local suppliers. I ventured out to one of my favourite coffee spots in Newark, Nottinghamshire to meet two sisters. Jenny & Emma are both professional florists who run a successful business called Flower Barn. They are based locally (Nottinghamshire) and cater primarily to the wedding industry but also work within the corporate and funeral markets.

How long have you both been florists?

Jenny – I have been a florist for about 20 years and have worked in a number of shops.  I started in the wedding industry as a florist about 18 years ago.

Emma – I have been a florist now for 25 years and worked in a number of shops including owning my own shop in Grantham for about 5 years.

Where did you both train?

Jenny – I started training at New College Nottingham alongside working in a floristry shop.  I took a break for about 3 years before going back into floristry, instead of shop work I went straight into the wedding industry. I set up Flower Barn in 2012.

Emma – I started training at Brackenhurst College whilst working in florist shops to gain lots of hands on experience. I furthered my education at New College Nottingham, then went on to train as a teacher. I was teaching floristry for about 5 years before then setting up my own florist shop.  When I sold my shop my husband and I diversified into another business for about 4 years. Meanwhile Flower Barn was gaining popularity and Jenny was drowning in flowers so I dusted off the apron and sharpened the scissors. It was good to be working with flowers again and creating something special.

Flower Barn create the perfect wedding flowers, wether you are looking to make a statement or have something more subtle.

Did you both always want to be florists?

Jenny – No, I wanted to be a fashion designer but after a year on the fashion course I realised it wasn’t for me so I had an office job for about 5 years and hated it!!!  Emma by this time was loving floristry and where she worked a job became available so I applied for it.  I loved it.

Emma – No I wanted to be on the stage, I did a performing arts course after leaving school and loved it. After finishing my course I needed a temporary job. I applied for a job at a florist shop and as part of the job I had to go on a florist course. Needless to say I loved it and as far as floristry concerned the rest is history!!!

What makes the perfect wedding flowers?

We firmly believe your flowers enhance everything, just like jewellery does to an outfit.  When a bride sees a floral design that they like, ask why?  Is it the colour, the flow, the shape, the texture?  A good florist will be able to combine the couples styles and vision with their skill and accessible ideas.  Only then will there perfect flowers be achieved and remembered forever.

What are your top 3 tips for a successful wedding day?

First tip – Planning – For us it is not just about the flowers we take everything into consideration from dresses, suits, table dressing etc…..Encompassing all these elements makes the the floral designs significant and complimentary.  We encourage our couples to use media material to show us their ideas so that we can build on this to create their perfect wedding.

Second tip – Flower care – Our years of experience enables us to select, condition, monitor and arrange quality flowers.  We like to collect/receive our flowers in plenty of time so that they are looked after properly.  It would be no good arranging beautiful designs with an inferior product, flowers need to be in prime condition for your wedding day.

Third tip – Communication – Meet and get to know your florist, both parties should feel comfortable with each other so that they can share any thoughts and concerns they may have.  This above anything else is the most important point because only by working together will we create the look you want, the whole process should be an enjoyable one. 

I would like to thank Jenny & Emma for their time and agreeing to speak about their business for the blog. For more information on creating your wedding flowers be sure to visit their website. I would also recommend booking in some time to go and meet them and see their incredible work in person.

5 Questions with – DBS Discos

Photo of DBS Discos set up

Today we continue our blog series where I meet up with recommended suppliers from within the wedding industry. With over 15 years of working within this very niche industry, I wanted to share with my clients, tips and inspiration from other suppliers who are service providers for weddings and events in the region.

I recently caught up with Ben from DBS Discos. He has a wealth of knowledge for couples planning their wedding day and looking to hire a live DJ to entertain their guests.

Tell us who you are and what you do.

Hi I’m Ben and I’m the wedding DJ with DBS Discos. I live in Nottingham but cover the whole of the Midlands. I’ve been a DJ since 2000 where I studied DJ skills at Confetti Studios in Nottingham. Music has been a huge part of my life and I’m a keen musician as well playing in orchestras, concert bands, and other music groups. Although I rarely play those styles of music at a wedding (unless it’s a request). I can also Video DJ, which is mixing music videos together to create a seamless visual experience.

DBS Discos are highly experienced wedding DJs.

How do you ensure the Music you Play meets the tastes of the Bride and Groom and their Guests?

The Music I play at weddings is always based on the audience I’m playing to. I will liaise with my couple to request a range songs that they want to have played. The rest of the night I take requests and read the crowd. I can read crowds based on age range and reading at people’s body language when certain music is played. I don’t always play requests however as it can have an adverse affect and sometimes clear the dance floor! Its carefully crafted over years of experience entertaining the crowds on the dance floor.

I also ask the couple if they have any “Do not play” music titles. This is actually really important as sometimes specific songs might cause some upset, or remind the couple of sad times. It’s vital that this kind of pre-show information has been received so I can build the perfect music set for your wedding!

How do you structure your evening when playing a set. Do you go from era to era or do you have another technique?

Paying attention is a really important skill for any DJ. I have spent years learning to read the crowd, and can usually tell what kind of music the guests will like. It’s important to watch for reactions to the tracks being mixed and pay attention to the energy in the room. I will always attempt to make sure everyone has a good time. I do however have a list of songs which are ‘sure things’. No matter where I DJ, these songs always seem to get people up dancing!

Another thing to consider is, some of the evening guests might not want to dance straight away. As a result, I always leave these floor fillers until after the food & buffet. While evening guests are arriving I will mix well known music which gives a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I always interact with the guests throughout as its very important the room becomes familiar with my voice.

Lighting can really enhance your venue.

What are your top 3 music tips for a successful wedding reception?

Deciding between a DJ and a Live Band is the big one when I am speaking to couples at wedding fairs. I love live music and when I’m not DJing I’m usually out watching a band or DJ play. I know how difficult it can be to choose between a DJ the two. One thing to consider is if you book a live band, theres a chance of alienating some of your guests. Not everyone will enjoy the bands style and set. Its important your guests dont leave your wedding early because of the music! Entertained guests are happy guests in my experience. A DJ has the luxury of being able to mix tracks from one genre to another with ease.

The lighting can also be a major factor. Most bands won’t really concern themselves with lighting, and have given little consideration to utilising the correct lighting so that everyone can enjoy the experience. For a band, it’s always about the sound. A DJ regularly considers lighting, which if done incorrectly can make a room dull and boring. I like to use lasers, intelligent lighting effects, and specialist effects that really enhance the room and create a real impact.

A third factor to consider are sounds restrictions. Many venues have has ‘sound limiters’ installed due to complaints from nearby businesses and houses. Always find out if this is the case as most bands will not perform under these restrictions. DJ’s can offer other options which might help make your night a success. I offer personalised monograms which can shine the couple’s names on the floor or wall. I also offer mood-lighting for the room which can help enhance the colour scheme of the day.

If you do decide to opt for a band, find out what will happen when they aren’t playing. Do they provide background music in between sets?

For more information about Ben and his services please visit DBS Discos.