We sincerely hope you are all well and looking forward to your wedding day.
There has now been an announcement (on Tues 23rd June) that weddings of up to 30 people will be able to go ahead from 4th July 2020! There are more details on the announcement that can be found on the government’s website (link below). There are still restrictions in place on any large parties/gatherings, but it is a big step in the right direction. Especially so for the ceremonies we have planned (and now confirmed) in July.
For couples who’s wedding day falls in September and beyond (we have been in contact with all couples up to the end of August) then we are currently expecting to go ahead with your day. We are very happy to have a chat with you if you’d like to call us, but we won’t be planning on calling you about your day until 6-8 weeks out from the date to confirm numbers, talk about any special arrangements etc. We appreciate there will still be a fair level of apprehension over what your day may be like and we will help wherever we can. Once we know what, if any, restrictions are in place then we’ll be letting you know what we are doing to abide with them whilst still delivering the best possible wedding day for you that we can.
This will be our last update on this blog but I’m sure we’ll be talking to you soon and we very much look forward to seeing you in person again very soon!
Link to Gov.uk website with details of Tuesday’s announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do-after-4-july
Following yesterday’s announcements from the government here is an update for you from us. Just a reminder that this blog post is aimed at couples with wedding dates booked in 2020 and we have been updating it since March.
The government announcements are the facts that we are relying on to inform our plan in the unique situation we find ourselves in. We expect more information to come out during this week to answer some of the questions raised by the changes but so far there appears to be two things affecting weddings announced. The most obvious is the proposed date of 1st July for the gradual opening of hospitality businesses (scroll down for our take on this). The second is the direct steer to get people back to work where possible. The impact of this is that at some point we will be expected to get our staff back into work and therefore not be claiming furlough payments for them. This in turn means we will be relying on revenue from weddings to pay their wages. There is no idea of when we will be expected to start covering all staff costs again but its certainly an indication of the direction of travel for our business from the government.
Regarding postponements; the government set a draft time frame of the 1st July for hospitality businesses to start reopening but we don’t expect to be holding weddings from the 1st July at this point. Because of that we will start from the beginning of July and week by week start offering postponement dates to couples. Today, we will be contacting couples with weddings taking place w/c 29th June. From the 18th May we will contact couples with wedding dates in the w/c 6th July. This will continue on a weekly basis dependent upon when we expect to be allowed to re-open. The terms of the postponements remain broadly the same in order to be fair to everyone and you will receive these when contacted by us. We do not yet know when we will start holding weddings at the farm again but we haven’t ruled out having them as early as the end of July at this point. We have kept in touch with our local registrars and we know that they are hoping to be available to conduct ceremonies as soon as possible and haven’t put a date on when, including not ruling out July onwards.
None of the above prevents you from contacting us if your date is further ahead just to chat through what we are doing and why. We know a lot of you are having to accept the reality that you will not be getting married on the date you had chosen. It’s not very nice for you as often the date has significance and you have already made plans for the day and beyond. It is horrible to have your plans all ruined through no fault of your own and to something so unforeseen. You absolutely have our sympathy. We are trying to be as open and honest as possible. We have of course accepted that we are going to (and should rightly) have no business profit in 2020. We have made cost cuts where possible and have put off all the improvement projects including the outside ceremony structure but there are some costs that cannot be avoided when running a business with large overheads. We recently had to waste 150 pints of beer with more still to go out of date in June! We are not asking for sympathy (because of what you are enduring as well) but merely pointing to fact that we are going through this with you.
That is it for now but please do call us if you want to talk about anything.
Please accept our apologies for not updating you recently. There were two reasons. Firstly, not a lot has actually changed since the restrictions were in place on 23rd March and secondly, we have had staff on furlough and we’ve had a new-born ourselves (thank you to all you well wishers) so have been unavailable to write this.
Regarding Covid-19 and it’s affect on your wedding, we have now spoken directly to all couples up to the end of October (or left voicemails were we couldn’t reach you). Everyone up to the end of June has been offered (and mostly taken up) a postponement to an available date up to the end of March 2021.
We will not start offering postponements to people with weddings booked in July and beyond right now. We are still 10 weeks away from the first July wedding and looking back we are only 5 weeks since restrictions were put in place so we feel its too soon for July dates. We expect an update on the current restrictions from Government in the second week in May so that will hopefully inform our decision and we will update you more then.
We don’t wish to be drawn into speculating on when we will be able to conduct weddings here again but ultimately the longer we are shut the worse it is for our business. We would like to be up and running as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Finally, thank you very much for your understanding. We have mentioned before how great our customers are and that continues to be true. Everyone has been so understanding of the effect this is having on us an other wedding suppliers businesses.
As always, you are very welcome to give us a call to discuss anything. We are sending positive thoughts and we really can’t wait to start running weddings again!
Hello again everyone!
We’ve been holding off on any updates as things are changing so quickly. We will keep doing regular updates, but they might not be so frequent as we don’t expect much to change in the short term. We have managed to speak to most or all of our 2020 couples so we know that most of you are on the same page as us.
Last night weddings were one of the types of social gatherings banned for three weeks by the UK government. The time limit of the ban will be reviewed regularly. Due to this we have extended our 6-week window of offering postponements to all weddings up to the end of May 2020.
The Huntsmill Farm partners (Henry, Ruth, Chris and Fiona) will be meeting on Monday 6th April to discuss the effects on the business and to see if any further action is needed. Until 6th April we won’t be considering moving weddings due to take place after May 2020.
As a business most of our staff are now working from home but we are pleased that we can keep all our staff employed. We’ve been racking our brains to see if there is anything we can be doing at the moment but we’ve had to accept that we are a business that relies upon people being sociable and travelling, neither of which is allowed at the moment. If we can receive any of the financial support from the government that has been mentioned then we will be prioritising our staff, then the local self-employed who rely upon us for employment (carpenters, cleaners etc.). The outside wedding structure has been put on hold as an ‘unnecessary expense’ until we know more about when this will be over. We have managed to complete the new honeymoon cottage (the Old Dairy) so will hopefully be revealing it to you very soon.
Thank you to those of you we have spoken to who have been so very understanding. We’re very grateful to have such lovely couples booked with us and can’t wait to celebrate your big days.
In the last two days the new announcements have mostly not affected us. The closing of schools will affect some staff members but not the availability of staff to be at any events on site.
Now that some of the proverbial dust has settled from Tuesday’s announcements, we have had a chance to talk to industry colleagues and couples alike. Without exception everyone is in the same boat and agrees that an option to postpone within this financial year (up to 31st March 2021) is a good solution for couples scheduled to be married in the next six weeks. No one saw this coming or was prepared for it so everyone should share the financial and emotional burden together. The main issue that comes with postponement is ensuring all (or most) of your suppliers can re-arrange to the new date at no or minimal cost (we’d be interested to hear if insurers are moving the date free of charge).
We have spoken to the Registrars this morning and one is on site to conduct a ceremony today. Buckingham Council Registrars are still operating a business as usual policy at the moment. They are also happy to postpone at no cost for weddings in the immediate vicinity.
Considering this positive news from the registrars we wanted to give you a new option regarding getting legally married here on your original date. This is an option for those of you who want to be married more than wanting to hold a wedding day. We are proposing to offer micro weddings which would give you the option to have an intimate ceremony here on the day you expected. The reception/party would obviously not take place as you had originally planned but at least you get to be married and have the original date on your certificate. You might choose just to do the ceremony, or you might like to stay in a cottage for the night and perhaps your caterer could send a chef with a meal for the members of the smaller wedding party. If you would like to go down this route, we would be delighted to host you. We would of course also offer a later date for you to come back and have the reception. You could then renew your vows, use a celebrant or friend to conduct a ceremony or choose to skip that part altogether. There would be a cost implication, but we will keep it to an absolute minimum and it would vary depending upon the size of the ceremony, the number of cottages you would like and for how many nights etc. Please do get in touch if you would like to have a chat about this option.
Below are a couple of questions we have been asked by couples when deciding whether to postpone or not:
Q: How long will the postponement option be available to us?
A: It’ll be available to you for at least 2 weeks from the offer but given the ever-changing advice you should call us and talk to us if you leave it longer than that as we will be flexible where we can.
Q: Can I postpone to next summer?
A: No. We have the future of our business to consider and forfeiting a whole financial year is clearly not viable for us (or any business). The limit of dates available is up to 31st March.
We will be starting to call couples getting married in May to talk through their options very soon.
Any of you are free to give us a call to discuss anything but if you are outside of that six week window then we won’t be re-arranging your wedding just yet.
You will all be aware of the new UK government guidelines around the coronavirus (Covid-19) announced yesterday evening. It does, at this time, appear to just be guidance. Having spoken with some others across the industry we believe the immediate implication is that we should react appropriately in terms of our in-house health and safety. We won’t be closing the venue following this latest announcement, so we are still open to hold weddings and events.
However, we have taken the decision to start working very closely with those weddings which are due to take place in the next six weeks and where appropriate offer them the option to postpone to a later date in 2020 or early 2021. At this time, we won’t be doing this with those of you who are outside of the six-week window. I hope you see that the speed at which things have changed means to plan that far ahead for an outcome we don’t know seems pointless and we run the risk of making things worse.
Please speak to us. If you have had any conversations with your insurance company, then we would love to know what the outcome was. If you’re concerned about what we are going to do, then we are more than happy to talk everything through with you. We are trying to be open about what we are doing and why. Our absolute priority is to hold your wedding at Huntsmill. We also have a duty of care towards our staff, our preferred suppliers, etc.
We are talking to couples with weddings in the next six weeks to plan appropriately and in some cases if that means postponing to a later date then that is something we can do (subject to availability).
We aren’t taking this approach with anyone outside of that six-week window yet. I appreciate you may have concerns, but they are just not as pressing as those within that six-week window. We would appreciate your understanding on this.
Finally, a massive thank you to those wonderfully understanding couples who we have already spoken to. There has been a real spirit of openness and co-operation for which we thank you. This ‘can do’ attitude has meant that we believe we can get through this as smoothly as possible.
Hello everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read this. This is where we will be putting up any updates from us on the situation at Huntsmill Farm and if/how we are affected by the coronavirus (Covid-19).
We completely understand that it is a worrying situation and you will be concerned about whether your wedding can go ahead, whether suppliers are able to attend, whether international guests can still travel and if elderly guests will still be able to be present.
We just wanted to let you know we’re here to help in any way we can. Even if its just to pick up the phone and chat about it all. By keeping communication open we hope to spot any issues early on, talk about what can be done and ultimately provide you with the best wedding we can at Huntsmill Farm.
As it stands today (13th March 2020) we are very pleased to report that we are very much open as usual. We have of course taken on the advice available to everyone from the www.nhs.uk and www.gov.uk. Measures we are taking include monitoring our staff, enabling our staff to work from home when not needed on site and giving advice on increased hygiene. We have also looked at how we staff our events and have put contingency plans in place should someone become ill. On site we have put more information in hand washing areas and have ensured we have all the supplies we need.
What can you be doing?
- If you have wedding insurance then it would be prudent to give them a call and see where you stand. Let us know how you get on.
- You could consider asking a guest to perform a video call of your ceremony and speeches for others to live stream at home so that they feel involved. We have started looking into this on your behalf and will update you with services we think may suit best.
- Finally, keep in contact with your main suppliers and maintain that communication. We all benefit from knowing that we’re all on the same page.
We are not looking to cancel any weddings at all or to close the venue at all if possible. At the moment it is business as usual and as such existing terms and conditions of booking apply including our cancellation terms. Should you wish to cancel then please let us know in writing and we will take it from there including issuing any invoices due.
Please watch this space as we will aim to update you as and when the situation changes or we have any new ideas to help.