• Dodmoor House

How to make the most of your special day

Updated: Jun 17

It's safe to say, we've all been hearing a lot of what we CAN'T do for what feels like a long time... So we wanted to take the time to tell you what you CAN do at weddings (under the current restrictions), and why it will still be the greatest and most memorable day of your lives!

We know the sacrifices that so many couples have already made and we are all counting on weddings getting back to ‘normal’ from July 19th onwards.

Our main focus at Dodmoor is, and always will be, ensuring that our couples have the BEST day ever. While we are all hoping for a little more 'normality' very soon, we can say with our hands on our hearts that we have truly been loving the intimate weddings that have taken place at Dodmoor since 17th May. Drinks flowing, sun shining (mostly!), a happy couple, and their nearest and dearest celebrating their love.

Garden game image by Sarah Vivienne

In the words of Cat and Craig, who married on 3rd June 2021, "Try not to refer to it as a ‘Covid’ wedding, as this bring a lot of negative connotations that simply aren’t true; one of the best things about our day was how normal it felt - it was the first time in 15 months that we didn’t hear the word Covid all day!

"Prior to making the decision about whether to proceed, we listed all the important things we wanted out of our wedding day - other than a disco in the evening and more guests, we realised that everything we wanted was still possible."

Whilst there are some restrictions in place, know that there is no limit on love, happiness and enjoyment!

You CAN eat, drink and be merry (table service only, but this just means you don't need to head back and forth to the bar - we will do the steps for you!)

You CAN enjoy garden games at the lawn, you CAN enjoy a delicious seated wedding breakfast, and although dancefloors are banned, you CAN enjoy the music, live or recorded (first dances are allowed!)

You CAN hug loved ones as it is your own decisions whether you feel safe and comfortable (please just respect those who do wish to socially distance), and overall you CAN finally celebrate your relationship and love on this special day you have waited so long for.

Beloved dogs still also very much allowed!

Sadly, we have to reduce the guest list before July 19th to 60 people due to the Government’s requirement for social distancing capacity (even though guests don’t actually have to socially distance from each other while they are here, if they choose not to).

However what Dodmoor does gives you is plenty of beautiful outdoor space to enjoy your first day out with all your friends and families for far too many months. Picture the perfect English country garden scene…

Enjoying drinks and canapes seated at the lawn in the afternoon sun, with background music playing, lawn games in full flow and photos taking place, while guests are seated to chat or able to mingle freely (just not when they are holding drinks) – and without masks anywhere in sight!

Image by Sarah Vivienne

In the early evening, we can set up outdoor seating for everyone in the courtyard (with the Courtyard Barn as back-up) for guests to gather outside, perhaps with an outdoor acoustic set being played (background live music is allowed outside before 9pm), evening food being cooked and drinks flowing freely via waitress service straight to your seats.

And if the mood takes you for a little sway of the hips, dancing isn’t actually banned outside (it’s just advised against and we can’t set up space for a dancefloor).

After 9pm, you can stay outside to chat or perhaps move inside the Catesby Barn to be seated while more live music or a DJ set is played in the background as you enjoy a fun ‘pub night out’, again with drinks served straight to your seats by our team of friendly staff.

We understand that it may not be exactly the wedding you first dreamed of (and lots of us would miss the dancefloor), but we can promise you that it will still be a day you will remember forever (and who really wants to wait another year to marry The One)…

Image by Sarah Vivienne

We spoke to a handful of our lovely couples who have tied the knot over the last month, and this what they had to say about their wedding days, including advice they would offer to others...

Anna and Colin (who after a wedding booked abroad and four postponed dates, finally married on 7th June!) -

"30 of the most important people in our lives! The people who have shared the highs and the lows and who have supported us through it all. We wouldn’t have changed it for the world! It was so emotional, a party for 30 people who hadn’t seen each other properly for over 18 months. It made absolutely no difference that the guests had to wear masks in the ceremony. We had a singer, a photographer (sarah Vivienne) the registrars were amazing, we set up a zoom for all our friends and family that couldn’t be there and then we then went for drinks on the lawn and although everyone remained seated for drinks and canapes, Colin and I introduced everyone…. You can’t do that with 80 people!

"Dinner was altogether on a long table in The Catesby Barn where we could all talk to each other and then speeches back in the Courtyard Barn which was more relaxed with gorgeous tables set out . Even more tears! In the evening we hired a band (Flo and B) and we sat with the doors open on a beautiful summer evening , eating cheese and biscuits (Portfolio Events) and drinking port. For any couples in our situation who have had to reschedule their date, change their guest lists numerous times and come to terms with all that has been thrown your way, although it might not be the day you originally planned it will be the best day ever no matter what!!! Don’t stress the small things, what is important is that you are marrying the person you love!"

Lauren and Mat -

"Our favourite part of the day was the ceremony and then the first dance outside in the courtyard, a memory we will treasure forever. The drinks reception was also wonderful! Everyone relaxing outside, drinks flowing and making the most of the sunshine. If we could offer advice to other couples, we would say relax! Don’t sweat the small stuff (as I did a little and it really doesn’t matter)! We are SO beyond happy to finally be husband and wife. Enjoy the day as it flies by, and utilise Louise from Dodmoor as much as you need to, as she is really helpful!"

Charlie and Tom -

"Remember to enjoy the day. It was a really special day and I think emotions were heightened because our wedding was the first time that we had so many close family and friends together in one place. Although we had some restrictions in place and we had to do things slightly differently, we didn't even really notice and everyone was clearly enjoying themselves.

"Being able to stream a live video of the ceremony meant that we could have a few of our special friends and family who couldn't make it share the moment that we said I Do. There are still things that you can do to make them feel involved, and we had some friends watch the ceremony together with an afternoon tea and fizz! They loved it.

"At times, it was really hard to get excited and felt a little stressful as it was out of our hands. We are just so grateful that we could finally get married. The venue were so supportive and put us at ease, and in the end we had a fabulous day and we wouldn't change it for the world. It felt perfectly intimate and we both managed to spend time with everyone who came, we can't imagine have the time to do this if we had our original numbers."

Image by David Swailes

Rachael and Josh -

"Relax - the day will all come together.

Prioritise what matters the most - is it the party or marrying the love of your life?

Prepare the guests - the Dodmoor code of conduct was great to keep our guests in the loop about the ever changing guidance.

Get advice from Dodmoor - if you planned for something really special, there could be a way to still make the dream come true!

Still try to schedule a food trial with your suppliers. This is great to keep in touch and update them with ‘themes’ etc.

Reducing your guest list is hard. Really hard. Remember everybody will understand and will be happy for the married couple, even if they couldn’t be there on the day.

Think about the atmosphere. One thing we remember from our day is the chilled out atmosphere. Everybody was relaxing in the sun on the lawn! This was all achieved by some live acoustic music and cocktails from the Dodmoor Drinks Package. Neither were originally planned pre-Covid, but really added something to our day.

Don’t be afraid to end the day early. Our registrar was only available at 12.30pm, so we had a very early start. We decided to say goodbye to the guests at 6.30pm. This gave us time to relax, reflect and remind ourselves why we chose Dodmoor to celebrate our day. If you do this, you might want a takeaway. P.S Hogs and Hops is AMAZING for this!

Alternative guest books. We got some Jenga blocks and gave each guest a pen with the block to sign and state a memory. These will give us lasting memories for a lifetime!

Lastly, try to see all your guests. We planned for a receiving line on exit but also went round to speak to the tables at our cheese course - if nothing else, it was just nice to see family after so long."

Cat and Craig -

"We chose to call it an ‘intimate wedding’, as this better reflected the day and helped us to feel more positive about the changes we had to make. One thing that a lot of people told us prior to Covid was that their biggest regret was not getting to speak to all their guests individually, or not spending enough time with their partner to take everything in during their own big day - with our intimate wedding, this isn’t something we needed to worry about at all; we were part of most conversations happening, and don’t feel like we missed out on anything.

"Enjoy the freedom that having fewer guests will bring. We found we had more flexibility with the day to make it less traditional and more us; fewer guests meant we felt under less pressure on both the lead up to, and during, the big day, so we had more time to just enjoy the day. We also felt like we didn’t need to impress anyone, as we only had our closest family in attendance - once all the social pressures and expectations surrounding planning the wedding was removed, it became a really enjoyable experience.

Consider live streaming your ceremony, as we found that lots of people who wouldn’t normally have been able to attend, were keen to be a part of our day virtually. Watching the recording of the Zoom call itself has also provided a lot of laughter, with some people still struggling to put themselves on mute or turning their cameras off – it really is a sign of the times!

"The most challenging part about planning our wedding during the pandemic was the uncertainty around the rules that would be in place for our date. As with everything in life, there are things that we can control and things that we can influence - in this case, as we had little control over the rules themselves, we spent our time focusing on those things that we did have control over. For example, cake tasting, dress fittings, and buying rings; we took time to enjoy each activity in the run up to the big day, rather than viewing them as just another thing to tick off the to-do list. We wanted to be prepared for all possibilities, and so had a few different plans for the day, just in case things changed; we basically got to plan our wedding three different ways! At the end of the day, we can promise you that whilst the uncertainty is tough, it is all forgotten once the big day comes around!

"Finally, we found that because our wedding was during the pandemic, it actually became more than just a day for us to get married. Our wedding was the first time loved ones had seen each other for an extended period in a really long time. Seeing them hugging, laughing and reconnecting, at an event that we had planned, was a real privilege. Knowing that our upcoming wedding was the thing keeping them going through lockdown, and that our wedding brought a little light during a very dark period, is a feeling like no other.

"Ultimately, having our hands forced by the pandemic was the best thing that could have happened; all of the social pressures and expectations surrounding weddings were removed, and we were able to plan a day that best reflected us as a couple. Weddings are always about love, but a wedding right now is about more than just the love between the newlyweds; spending a day surrounded by the people you love most, watching parents and children, siblings, aunts and uncles, reconnecting after such a long period apart, makes any disappointment about changes you’ve had to make to plans, just fade away. We had the best day ever, and we wouldn’t have changed it for the world."

We are here to help you!

We don't know about you, but we have a little tear in our eye! We've said all along, love conquers all. And these couples and weddings show exactly that!

If you're worried about 'entertainment' for the evening period, rest assured you can still have a photobooth (this would just need to be safely managed), hire a magician or caricaturist, supply outdoor games for the courtyard, play a game of Mr and Mrs with all your guests, or if you're avid gamers like some of our couples have been, you could supply indoor table games or quizzes amongst the tables (we have seen some serious games of 'Cards Against Humanity' take place, and one wedding hired an official Pub Quiz Master!)

We like to think that the ingredients for an amazing wedding are the food, the drink, and the love. And there's nothing to say that you can't have either of those at weddings right now! Above all, know that you CAN safely have a magical wedding day here at Dodmoor, and while some things might need to be adjusted slightly, you will end the day married to the love of your life, surrounded by those closest to you.

Image by Sarah Vivienne

We know it's a tough time for anyone planning a wedding right now, and our hearts go out to you all. If you have not already spoken directly to your wedding coordinator about your wedding plans or if you have any questions, please get in touch by emailing us.

And remember, LOVE WINS.

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