Wedding venue team goes extra mile for customers
- Credit: Deer Park Country House
Making sure a bride and groom’s big day runs seamlessly is a challenge at the best of times.
But when the wedding has to be rearranged two, three or even four times, a high level of experience and expertise is required.
Thankfully for couples who had booked their nuptials at the Deer Park Country House near Honiton during the past 18 months, they were being taken care of by some of the best in the business.
“It was really hard going for our team but we wanted to make sure our customers got the big day they had dreamed of, no matter what that took,” said managing director Mark Godfrey.
“We didn’t furlough any of our weddings team and they were busier than ever helping couples navigate the various restrictions, many of which were announced at the last minute.”
Mark said that at the peak of the pandemic, the hotel had processed around 300 wedding postponements.
“Incredibly we had hardly any cancellations and that's a real credit to our team and how much they care. It’s not just the venue to consider when postponing a wedding. You have everyone else from the band to the photographer to consider.
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“It takes up an awful lot of time but people don’t want to tell their guests they can’t dance or that they have to remain seated for champagne and canapes. We absolutely get that.
“The staff worked flat out and, on a brighter note, were regularly receiving cards and flowers from couples thanking them for guiding them through what was a stressful time for everyone.”
Mark said the gardeners were also kept on the payroll throughout the various lockdowns.
“Our cash flow was hit hard but Mother Nature pays no heed to that. The grass doesn’t stop growing because you don’t have any guests!” said Mark.
“When the restrictions were partly lifted, we were able to show couples around and we wanted them to see Deer Park in all its glory.”
Mark and the team also took the opportunity to carry out a number of improvements during the three lockdowns.
“A lot of what we did would have been almost impossible in normal circumstances because it would have been too intrusive but with no guests on site we were able to complete some ambitious projects including an extension to our outdoor pizza area as well as some new places to explore,” he said.
Despite the difficulties Mark and his team, also have some fond memories.
He explained: “We grow our own vegetables on site but because the kitchen was closed we had more than we could use and so we decided to load some of it up in one of our vehicles and take it to our neighbours and a number of local food banks.
“We also allowed our staff to use the gardens and grounds for exercise and relaxation when the rules allowed, which was really beneficial to their mental health and we also offered training and upskilling opportunities.”
Mark said it would take a while to get back on track but that the future was looking bright.
“We have a strong order book well into next year and we have benefitted from the loyalty of our customers,” he added.
Testament to that was a record August for the Deer Park team who managed to fit in 26 weddings, compared to the usual 15 to 18.
“That’s not the volume we want to be doing in one month long term but it meant a lot of families enjoyed a happy end to what has been a very testing and emotional time,” said Mark.
“We thanked the staff by throwing a party a few days ago and it was great to see everyone letting their hair down after what has been a very long haul.
"I’m extremely proud of our team, they go from strength to strength."
Deer Park Country Housel is 300 years old this year and without doubt, the period from March 2020 to August 2021 will be amongst the most dramatic in its history.
For more information and to book the venue, go to https://www.deerpark.co.uk