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How to plan your wedding reception for a stress-free day

Wedding venue Somerset

Wedding venues Somerset

Your big day has finally arrived and you’re looking forward to all the fun and great times about to happen – and that’s how it should be. You can pretty much guarantee yourself a stress-free wedding day if you have thought about and planned in advance the time line of your wedding reception and communicated that to everyone involved. It’s definitely worth the effort and can be part of the fun in the build up to your wedding day. It gives you the opportunity to think in detail about what you really want to happen and when, plus highlighting any areas that might have been forgotten.

Here are a few pointers to consider when you making your plans:-

Cocktail time

The ceremony is over and you’ve exchanged your vows, this is the moment the emphasis switches from the wedding ceremony to the wedding reception. If you’ve chosen an unusual wedding venue in Somerset, you may like to consider having drinks outside, making the most of your quirky venue or enjoying the wonderful countryside views. Discuss with the venue organiser when you would like the drinks served and how, for example, by waiting staff mingling or from serving tables. Have a time limit for your guests to chat and then your MC will invite everyone into the main reception area.

Making an entrance

Once all your guests have found their seats, this is the moment you can make your entrance. Perhaps you’ll be sweeping down a grand staircase at a wedding venue in Somerset, or entering the marquee in the beloved garden of your family home –  your entrance can be as personalised as your choice of venue. Maybe have a favourite song playing, some instrumental music, or even a fanfare! On the other hand, be casual and simply stroll in.

The wedding meal

You’ve probably spent a great deal of time thinking about the menu, so enjoy it and the company of your guests at the top table – there will be plenty of opportunity to spend time with your other family and friends later. If you would like more tips on choosing your wedding food and caterer, please click here.


This is often a much anticipated moment at a wedding. But, if for you, it’s nerve wrecking, perhaps consider having the speeches earlier in the day, or part way through the meal. Traditionally the father of the bride speaks first, followed by the groom, the bride and then the best man. It’s good for everyone speaking to have a time allocation, particularly if this is during the meal – the quality of the food may suffer if there is a long over-run. Ideally, the speeches should be held, while your guests are sitting down. They will enjoy them to the max, if they are comfortable and relaxed.

Cut the cake

And make a wish! Ask your MC to announce this if you’d like an audience, but it’s ok too, to make it a private moment and don’t forget to add this to the photographer’s list, if you want a special keep sake. Ensure you have enlisted someone’s help to look after any cake not eaten at the wedding, especially if you are hoping to celebrate your first anniversary with the top layer.

Let’s dance

Once you’ve had a chance to circulate among your guests it’s time to have your first dance as a married couple. With the music selected, just get someone to give you the nod at a chosen time and then strut your stuff. Thereafter, it’s party time on the dance floor and all ages will be having a great time together. Give the band a list of all your favourites and spare a thought for making sure they have some food and drink provided for them, you will gain enormous goodwill.

And finally….

Don’t forget to consider when you are going to throw your bouquet. This usually happens towards the end of the reception and if you’d rather not be parted from your bouquet, a fake one provides the fun while you can still keep the original! Let your MC know the time for last orders at the bar and he can announce this to your guests. So with glasses refreshed it’s time for the last dance to be declared – one last opportunity for grooving and then your departure. Organise a trusted friend to ensure that all the keep sakes from the reception are put somewhere safe for you.

If you are still in the early stages of your planning and are looking for wedding venues in Somerset, then do have a look at our 2 wedding venues in Somerset, that offer huge flexibility and are great for a house party weekend wedding where your celebrations carry on for the whole weekend.



Weddings – Widcombe Grange style


Widcombe Grange is great if you’re looking for a relaxed, chilled vibe to your country house party wedding weekend, with your ceremony at the heart of it. Set within 22 acres of private grounds, with heated pool and hot-tub, you have exclusive use for your entire stay.

Festival style house party weekend weddings

Weekend house party weddings at Widcombe Grange

The lakeside gazebo is particularly appealing for an outdoor wedding ceremony. Afterwards choose between a marquee reception, the rural barn or the characterful coach house. Within the beautiful grounds there are several positions that are wonderful for your marquee and you might want to consider a fabulous festival style wedding if you’d like more of your guests staying onsite over the weekend in a tipi village.

When you choose a house party weekend wedding you’ll be able to enjoy so much more than just a one day event.  You’ll usually arrive on a Friday afternoon and perhaps crack open a bottle of champagne to kick off your celebrations, or maybe you’ve decided to add a very personal touch by decorating your marquee with the help of some of your friends.  By evening, the hot tub will probably be central, giving you a fun, relaxing night before your big day.  Don’t forget, if you want a hand with supper, we can put you in touch with a local chef – Michelin star or homely comfort food, the choice is yours.


Channel your Glastonbury at your festival style wedding

Tipi village at a festival style wedding at Widcombe Grange

Saturday, you’ll wake up feeling like you’re getting married in your own home, not a hotel where you follow their timetable.  Pad downstairs in your pj’s and have breakfast whenever you want, wherever you want it – perhaps arrange something fun for the morning, like clay shooting, or relax with an indulgent massage.  As your ceremony approaches, our team start to discreetly do their thing, making sure you have your dream day just how you want it.  During the months leading up to your wedding, you’ll have had several meetings with us and a menu tasting, so you know the only surprises will be good ones!

Part of the beauty of the wedding weekend is that the day after, the fun still isn’t over, you won’t be packing up and saying your good-byes. Sunday allows you to carry on for one more day.  Reminiscing, laughing, relaxing by the pool.  Maybe a barbecue; get your friends and family to pitch in, or we’ll be happy to arrange help.  However you decide to spend your weekend here, you’ll have so many memories to cherish – it won’t feel like it’s over in a flash, it will feel like you’ve had the best weekend of your life and married the love of your life.


House party wedding weekends at Widcombe Grange

Charming views from the marquee towards the tipi village at Widcombe Grange


6 top tips when choosing your wedding food!


Wedding party food for a fabulous wedding day

Delicious wedding party food by Milkshed Catering at Tone Dale House & Widcombe Grange










Getting married is such an exciting time and planning for your wedding can be a lot of fun for you and your partner to enjoy.  Once you’ve chosen your wedding venue, your attention will be turning to your wedding food.  We’d like to offer a little advice, based on the hundreds of lovely weddings we’ve had the pleasure to help married couples enjoy at Tone Dale House & Widcombe Grange.  So here are some of our top tips…

#01 Choose Your Style

Decide on what style of meal you want.  Would you like a formal served meal or something more casual, say shared platters or a “carve your own” at the table?  This is very much down to your personal style, there’s no right or wrong about it.  But it’s good to think about this in advance of meeting with caterers.  You may change your mind as your decision-making progresses, but it will at least give you the basis for a meeting or phone call to start things off with your caterer.

We’d suggest that buffet style (at least for your main course) doesn’t work for wedding numbers – you’ll end up with a queue of people waiting for food, the top table having finished eating, while others won’t have started.  This can prolong the meal a lot and speeches can’t start until everyone has finished eating.

#02 Your budget

Be open about your budget with your wedding caterer and they can usually work with you to achieve as much as your budget can allow.  It’s surprising what little tweaks to your food choices can do to the overall value for money you’ll achieve.

#03 Special to you

Bride & Grooms, we really think it’s important that you choose at least some food for yourselves that you love or that means something special to you. It’s your special day so don’t just choose what other people would like …..they can have that at their own special event!!  What you select will also be part of the personality of your wedding that is uniquely you.

#04 Keep the food coming, as well as the alcohol!

Think about having canapes served with drinks, particularly important if your wedding ceremony time means people won’t have had lunch!  Likewise, consider how many hours there will be between your wedding meal and the end of your party and think about whether your guests will need evening food.  Particularly important if the alcohol is flowing!

#05 Have a tasty tasting

Arrange a tasting with your wedding caterer.  Just you, your partner and the caterer.  Don’t be persuaded to attend a group tasting, as that just generically gives you an idea of the caterer’s food. You want to sample the food that you will be eating on your wedding day. It really allows you to know what you’re getting and for the caterer to be able to know what adjustments you would like – no surprises on your big day!  Milkshed Catering (a fabulous supplier to Tone Dale House & Widcombe Grange) go the extra mile here and prepare everything for your tasting, exactly as it would be on your wedding day.

#06 And don’t forget…

This is an obvious one, but just a reminder to think about the special dietary requirements of your guests and this needs to cover all elements of the catering – canapes, evening food etc, as well as the main meal. You can also introduce a fun element into the children’s food if you are having a separate menu for them.

Above all, enjoy the process and remember if you put yourself in the hands of a great wedding venue and an excellent caterer you can relax and let their expertise guide you through.

The Big House Co Wedding Checklist – Part Two


Last week in part one of our mini series about wedding planning we set out some of the biggest wedding decisions and got them out of the way. We covered everything from working out the budget to drafting a guest list and booking the wedding venue. We also discussed the Wedding Planning with the Big House Companyimportance of getting on the case with the search for the perfect dress and identifying your photographer, florist and wedding cake supplier early on, as the most talented and popular suppliers tend to be booked up well in advance.

Finalise bookings with the suppliers mentioned above and if your wedding catering is not being taken care of in house, you should be finalising your booking with the caterer of your choice early on too.

OK. That’s the tricky stuff sorted. Now to focus on some of the fun details…!

– Your Bridesmaids & Their Outfits

Whether you are organising a small and intimate wedding and have chosen just one or two bridesmaids or you are planning a larger bash with a bigger group of ladies in waiting by your side, once you have the dress, it is time to turn your attention to the dresses your bridesmaids will wear.

Our three top tips for this task are…

  1. Take inspiration from your own dress, making sure that your bridesmaids dresses coordinate with the style and vibe of your own outfit and be sure to take the time of year into account too!Big House Company Wedding Planning Tips
  1. Give your choice of colour some serious thought. Different skin tones and hair colours look best when paired with different colours so be sure to choose a palette that will compliment all of the girls. These days it is not unusual for bridesmaid’s outfits to be picked out in a two-colour palette or even in completely different colours.
  1. Having chosen the colour, (or colours), it is time to think about the style of dress that would best suit your bridesmaids. A great option for a group of girls with very different body types may be to go for similar dresses with varying necklines and cuts to keep everyone happy!

– Getting Your Men Kitted Out

Your next task is to organise formalwear for your groom and all of the men in your bridal party, choosing a style and accessories that compliment the rest of your colour scheme. Again, it is Big House Company Wedding Planning Tipscrucial to take the time of year into account, as heavy formalwear can be particularly uncomfortable in warm weather and you do not want your men looking all sweaty!

Our two crucial top tips to remember here are…

  1. Make sure that your grooms outfit is unique in some way so that he stands out clearly from the rest of the men on your big day.
  1. Make sure that all formalwear has been tried and fitted well in advance of the big day to eliminate excruciatingly embarrassing scenarios like huge shirt collars and ankle swinging trousers. This way you have plenty of time to iron out any wardrobe glitches so that all of the guys in your bridal party look their absolute best.

– Organising Your Wedding Stationery

Your wedding stationery sets the tone for the event, after all, there is nothing like a gorgeous invitation arriving in the post to build the excitement for your guests. Your stationery design gives guests their first glimpse of the style of your upcoming event, be it chic and elegant or a wild barn dance style hooley!

There are lots of different bits and pieces of wedding stationary that you may or may not need, Big House Company Wedding Planning Tipsdepending on your plans, some are fairly essential, for example; save the date cards and invitations, your RSVP cards, directions, order of service, table numbers, menu and place cards.

There are many other items that you may also want to consider, for example; signage, wedding favour tags and your gift list. You will of course also need to think about your thank you cards to send out following the event.

Sending out save the date cards as soon as you have a date set gives people plenty of time to plan time off, transport and accommodation, pet boarding and such like. Then traditionally you would send your invitations out approximately 8 weeks before the big day, allowing plenty of time for the return of the RSVP’s and the finalisation of numbers with your caterers.

Like all other aspects of your planning, the key to choosing your stationery is coordination. There are so many fun styles and quirky ideas to choose from, just be sure to order well in advance, so that all of those bespoke details can be printed and checked with plenty of time to spare.

– Wedding Transport

If you’ve booked a Big House Company venue like Tone Dale House or Widcombe Grange, your wedding ceremony and the reception are to be held in the same place so you may not need to Big House Company Wedding Planning Tipsworry about wedding transport at all. (Although if this is the case, you could consider setting aside some of your budget to book something gorgeous like a classic or vintage car to make a stylish exit in instead)!

There are so many wonderful options to consider for transport to the ceremony plus it’ll make for a great photo opportunity… You are sure to find something right up your street, be it a vintage Rolls Royce, a shiny tractor, a tandem bicycle or even a motorcycle and sidecar!

The Big House Co Wedding Checklist – Part One

The Big House Co Wedding Planning Guide

At the Big House Company we’ve seen our fair share of weddings over the years whether it be attending as a guest, being the bride or groom or hosting them at one of our properties.

Wedding planning is an incredibly exciting process; giving you plenty to look forward to. We thought that it was time we put our collective heads together here at Big House Company HQ and came up with our own handy checklist of things to do you can get planning straight away.

In the first part of this series we’re going to run through some of the tasks that you can get started on straight away and get the get the ball rolling making some key decisions. Before you know it you’ll start to see everything taking shape right in front of your eyes…

First Things First – Set Your Wedding Budget

The last thing you want to do is start your married life with a huge debt looming over your heads, so a wedding budget is essential, to keep your spending on track in the run up to the big day.

Take a realistic look at your finances to establish what you can both afford to spend and verify if any family members are planning to contribute.

Times have changed and whilst traditionally the parents of the bride would foot the majority of the bill in the past, these days this happens far less frequently. If it feels awkward to approach your parents for money, a different approach could be to ask them to pick up the tab for your dress, or your wedding cake, to relieve the financial pressure and stretch your budget that little bit further.

Once you have set your budget, you will need to be disciplined and stick to it. Opening a dedicated account for your wedding expenses is the best way to track your spending and avoid mixing up your everyday money with the money you have allocated for your wedding.

Wedding guest lists are never easy!Prepare A Draft Guest List

Many couples will tell you that this is often the hardest task associated with organising a wedding, but getting a good idea of the numbers you are looking at is crucial as it will help you to choose an appropriate sized venue for the occasion and your numbers will have a key impact on all of your budgetary decisions. This task can be fraught with complications, as you cannot invite every single person you know and there will always be that one family member who is an absolute liability to worry about!

Just remember that sad though this is you cannot please all the people all of the time. It is your special event, so be selective and invite the people you really want to be surrounded with on the day. Every married couple has faced this dilemma to some extent or another. It isn’t easy…

Choose & Book Your Wedding Venue

With your budget and draft guest list in hand; you are now in a position to turn your attention to the wedding venue. You may already have a venue in mind, such as the local church where your parents tied the knot, but if not, there is such a fantastic choice of unique licensed wedding venues throughout the UK that you are certain to find just what you have in mind.

These days wedding venues are anything but boring, you could decide to get hitched on a boat, in a zoo or opt for a stunning period property in the countryside! The Big House Company is very pleased to be able to offer two beautiful houses for hire as wedding venues – Tone Dale House and Widcombe Grange both in Somerset.

If you are able to find a venue you love that is able to offer you an inclusive package with catering, music and accommodation this can be an excellent option, but the most important thing is to choose a location that you both really want, after all this will provide you with the blank canvas for building the perfect event.

Remember to ensure that there will be sufficient local accommodation to put all of your guests up.

You will probably need to make provisional bookings at this stage as you need to juggle a little until you have secured a date with the registrar or minister and any other professionals or supplier you have your hearts set on. Once you are sure that everyone is available on the same day, you can go ahead and confirm all of your bookings.

Book your annual leaveArrange Your Leave

Put in your annual leave request as early as possible to secure time off for your wedding and honeymoon. If you usually have a tough time arranging holiday leave for the dates you need, the earlier the better. You may even want to submit some provisional dates before you have finalised all of the bookings to be on the safe side. You can also let your loved ones know to SAVE THE DATE!

Now The Real Fun Begins!

Good wedding photographers, florists and wedding cake suppliers all tend to get booked up way in advance so make it a priority to get on the case with looking for and securing dates with suppliers whose style appeals to you.

It’s also time to start thinking about that all-important dress, particularly if you are going to have it made to measure. It is wise to leave yourself a minimum of six months to allow for the design, making and fitting of a made to measure dress. Even if you are going to opt for an off the shelf designer number, leave yourself a similar amount of time to find the perfect one as you would not believe the quantity of dresses brides to be usually try on in the run up to their wedding day.

Try To Relax…

Don’t worry, you are going to have a heap of fun in the process and there is still so much more to look forward to! Keep an eye out the next two blogs in this series as we move through the steps on route to the big day itself!