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Wedding venues upping their game in battle for people saying ‘I do’

PUBLISHED: 10:17 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 15 January 2020

Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, is refurbishing its Colney Suite for 2020. Pic: Park Farm/Archant

Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, is refurbishing its Colney Suite for 2020. Pic: Park Farm/Archant

Bosses of Norfolk wedding venues are overseeing huge refurbishment plans costing millions – because of the pressure to be the choice for people’s big day.

Dunston Hall's general manager David Graham will oversee a multi-million pound investment of up to £4m to refurbish the hotel's facilities. Picture: Ella WilkinsonDunston Hall's general manager David Graham will oversee a multi-million pound investment of up to £4m to refurbish the hotel's facilities. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Such is the competition and the current trend for smaller, intimate weddings, many businesses are investing in new facilities.It comes as a popular wedding venue, the Lenwade House Hotel, went bust, leaving many couples forced to rebook their receptions.

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The Paterson brothers who are creating a new wedding venue at Worstead park. Pic: ArchantThe Paterson brothers who are creating a new wedding venue at Worstead park. Pic: Archant

David Graham, who's recently taken over as general manager at the Dunston Hall hotel, Ipswich Road, Norwich, which already has 64 weddings booked for this year, said it was becoming increasingly challenging.

"The market for weddings has become quite saturated and more businesses are needing to diversify. Brexit made it so difficult, with people holding off spending. You have to be able to offer something unique, a little bit different, that's what people are looking for. Often it comes down to price, people are asking: 'Do I need to spend £25,000 on a great wedding? People are also looking at other things such as saving to buy a house."

Mr Graham said at Dunston, they were looking at possibly offering wedding ceremonies outside and were currently embarking on a major refurbishment of all their facilities.

At Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, marketing manager Michael Bannister said its Colney Suite was about to be completely refurbished. He said they'd got 40 weddings booked already for this year and around 15 for 2021. "You've got to keep doing different things, we are lucky as our function rooms aren't just used for weddings but for all kinds of occasions. The problem is there are so many different options now; some people go abroad to get married. We are also finding people are choosing smaller weddings, intimate occasions of around 10 people. Luckily we do have smaller function rooms." He added they'd received many enquiries from couples let down by the Lenwade House Hotel - and were trying to help as many people as possible.

In Worstead, north Norfolk, farmer Bruce Paterson is currently creating a new stunning wedding venue on the estate run by him and brothers Gavin and Alex. They are in the process of converting an ancient barn which has a walled garden at Worstead Park. Delays in receiving grant funding have put back the completion date to later this year - but Mr Paterson said they had "a handful" of weddings already booked in. "For us, it's part of an estate-wide plan so we have other enterprises, but we do see weddings as a potential revenue stream."


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