Behind the scenes at The Walled Garden
How one of the East Midlands best loved wedding venues continues to bloom and flourish; we chat about the highs and lows of managing, running and developing the serene, idyllic Walled Garden with venue manager, Emma Davidson.
“Having worked here at the Walled Garden for over 7 years, I have watched this venue become one of the most sought after wedding venues of its kind. Brides and grooms are captivated by its English charm and quintessential style. And, it’s been amazing to be part of such a fantastic success story but it’s not been without its challenges!
Managing such a busy wedding venue is tough. It’s hard work, there’s no 9-5 and we rely heavily on our staff for their support. Finding the right staff in hospitality is very difficult. It’s one of the lowest paid industries in the UK and not many choose it for a long term career! But working one of the happiest days of people’s lives is rewarding. You always feel valued in your job and it has its perks too. We often sit in the garden for lunch (sometimes with a gin), you don’t get that working at the bank!
One of the challenges that people don’t always consider is the weather. People just think about the weather on their big day but this year’s late and abundant snow fall has impacted all areas of our business. The garden is slow to flower this year, plus we lost many plants and we’ve spent a fortune on early flowering plants to ensure the gardens looking good from April. The ladybirds in England suffered which means their numbers are down and white fly is up! The hedges and roses are needing our intensive care with money and man power. The farmers suffered and our food costs on lamb especially have shot up.
Investing in the team is the most efficient way to develop and maintain a successful venue. No one wants 3 different wedding coordinaters or ageny chefs putting their menus together. We develop them with training and fun days with financial pockets set aside each year just for them. They can come to me and ask to go anywhere if it’s going to benefit their careers. Recently we’ve enjoyed trips abroad for Christmas inspiration, calligraphy courses, garden tours and photography courses.
We’re also realistic about working in the modern world, the constant juggle of family life and people’s health. We often have staff bringing their children in during school holidays, our dogs can be seen regularly trotting across the car park ready for a day at work. Our team love the flexibility and support and it’s returned with their dedication. Plus our customers love how relaxed the venue feels when they see our extended team!
The running of the Walled Garden involves chefs, planners, operations and gardeners all working together looking after 3 time spans. What’s happening right now, what planning is happening for the immediate future and how the business is shaping for the years ahead.
Keeping an eye on developing trends but not losing your identity is key. The fashions come and go as they do on a high street. Vintage bunting, lace and afternoon tea worked perfectly in our English garden but the industrial look was going to be harder to incorporate. We decided to redo the bar area at the start of last year and used oversized copper shades with matt greys and filament bulbs and we filled it with a wall of plants and chalked signs illustrated with flowers! Our uniqueness is our location & the garden and it takes creative and intuitive minds in our team with lots of foresight, planning years ahead of time!
We all absolutely love what we do and think that’s the key. We will all go above and beyond to ensure our weddings are nothing short of perfection and the ever increasing challenges help us to stay ahead of the game, never become complaisant and soak up the wonderful experiences we’re lucky to enjoy at such a special wedding venue”.