Home » Archives for JIThomas

Author: JIThomas

Wedding Insurance

The coronavirus is dominating the headlines and it looks likely that it is going to have an impact on us all. I mean we’re already counting for 20 seconds while we wash our hands and are waiting to see how it develops and if any major decisions will be made by the government. The talk of social distancing which could include banning big events and closing schools, might make you wonder how your wedding fairs in all of this.

Unfortunately at this stage, nobody knows but one thing some industry experts have been warning of, is the importance of taking out wedding insurance. Well in just a mere matter of days it seems that this isn’t an option anymore. This post was originally written at the beginning of the week where we found multiple insurance companies offering cover, however, we’re now in a position where it appears that insurance companies have suspended customers from taking out new policies.

In an ideal world, yes, we’d recommend taking out insurance. Even if you’re not faced with an outbreak of a disease, things don’t always go to plan so having insurance in place is a good idea as far as we’re concerned. Unfortunately that option has been taken away for the time being.

IF (and it is an ‘if’) the coronavirus affects your wedding, you’ll probably be very surprised how much people will rally together to help in whatever way they can. There’s something about the British in adverse situations where if it feels a bit unjust, we want to do something about it. Certainly here at Brook Farm we will do whatever we can to help you. But for now, please try not to worry and keep washing your hands. #keepcalmandcarryon


Photo Credit; Kelsie Lowe Photography

Don’t let the doubters faze you

So, for whatever reason, you’re getting married and you want to do it quickly. But just how quickly can it be arranged….

As far as I’m concerned the key thing here is how you FEEL about this prospect. If you want to do this then yes, absolutely – a gorgeous wedding can be organised in a mere matter of months. However, if the thought of organising your wedding in a short space of time sends your anxiety level rocketing, it’s probably best to park the idea right now.

It should be stated that you definitely need to feel confident about this because you are going to have so many people gasp when you tell them and question why on earth you are doing this. That’s their bag, not yours. Don’t let the doubters faze you.

First things first, if you’re able to get a Wedding Planner on board then do it. They will find out what your key ideas are for your big day then they will delve in to their little black book (or more likely a pretty little organiser) and hit you up with suppliers that are going to deliver what you want. They can plan the timeline for your day and give you advice on everything. Knowing that a professional has got your back is a pretty good feeling! If you’re going down this road, here’s a couple of great planners to try; Perfectly Planned 4 You and White Button Weddings

If your budget doesn’t stretch to this then pick a friend or family member (the pragmatic, non-panicking kind) to help.  It is nice to have one specific person to run through things with.

For all of you lovely Brook Farm couples, ask us. We’re happy to be your sounding board and will give advice and suggestions wherever we can. Our brochure is a must read when planning your wedding here and is packed full of of wonderful suppliers.* 

So we’ve sorted out who is going to support you but what do you actually have to do? Let’s run through a real life example from one of our past couples. Meet Rachel and Josh (the guys in the photo above). They booked at the very end of February and had their wedding here a few days in to June. That’s 3 months.

They fell in love with Brook Farm but when they found out that we organise all of the boring bits (generators, cabling, toilets etc) it really was the icing on the cake! It meant they only had 4 additional things to book and given the timeframe, that was a to do list they could manage.

  1. caterer
  2. bar
  3. florist / styling
  4. band / DJ / entertainment

And there we have it. Not quite as daunting as you first thought? Like a lot of things if you take time to pause and break it down you often find that there’s not much to it. Rachel and Josh breezed through their planning and I still clearly remember how cool that wedding was and can still feel the good vibes of that day. So if you’re up for it just crack on and remember, don’t let the doubters faze you!


*The reason they’re in the brochure? Because we’ve seen them in action and love what they do (no dodgy venue/supplier deals here!).

Entertaining the little ones

One of our recent posts discussed whether to invite kids to your wedding but one thing is for sure, if you are inviting them, keeping kids entertained is the failsafe way to having happy kids. That is just the way it is and of course happy kids means happy parents who can relax and enjoy themselves. So just how do you keep them entertained at your wedding…? At Brook Farm you’re lucky enough to have space and plenty of it which is something that kids just love. The freedom to run around and go crazy is hugely appealing to them so you’re off to a good start but here are a few other ideas to throw into the mix.

A basket full of simple games is always well received. We’re talking; bubble wands, balls, hula hoops and space hoppers. If you have lots of kids attending you might want to think about something more substantial like a bouncy castle. Just be prepared to lay down some rules for this with a sign saying how many are allowed on at a time – if kids know the rules they are often compliant so it will make it easier for everyone.

Another option is to provide a bit of entertainment for the grown ups and kids together. Have a look at Dolly Dimples who are a Herts based company that provide traditional fairground games. They will set up your games on the big day and are then on hand to help catch balls, make things look pretty again, and explain how to play the games if needs be, enhancing the experience. Their games are unique as they have personally designed and lovingly handmade them. To finish off the look they surround the games where possible with bunting, scatter their signature heart sticks into the grass and they also come with their own carnival font wooden signs. Providing something like this through your drinks reception keeps the kids entertained but it is just as good for the adults and gets the conversations flowing between all of your guests as they have a play.

During the speeches when you are trying to keep them still and quiet, a little goody bag for each child is a great idea. It really depends on the children and their ages as to what you fill them with but the beauty of this kind of thing is you can create your own unique bag. To give you a few ideas of what to put in; colouring, paint your own biscuits (I promise they’re not messy – google it), puzzles, lego and if all else fails, do not panic as their parents have probably already got their phone charged ready to show them their favourite cartoon anyway!

Hopefully this has given you a few pointers for how you can try and keep the little ones amused but I think it is important to acknowledge that, when kids are involved, even the best made plans will not be executed to perfection. It’s good to make the plans but you’ve got to be able to just go with the flow as it doesn’t always go as planned. Flower girls and page boys may refuse to walk down the aisle, your children may decide that in the middle of your blessing they want a cuddle with you, they might try and escape during the photos (see above) and you might even get heckled in some form during the speeches. It doesn’t matter. There is no such thing as perfect and often these little hiccups can add some humour and normality to it all. One of the many wonderful things about kids is their brutal honesty in showing you exactly how they feel at any given moment so just embrace it. At least you tried to keep them happy.

Photo Credit; Purple Pear Tree Photography

Seriously?! Are you inviting kids to your wedding???

So whether you choose to have children at your wedding or not turns out to be a very passionate subject. The poll we did recently sparked an immense amount of conversation (which was great!) so let’s go through the headliners…

To get straight to the point, 32% of you were in the no way camp.

I have to say that on the whole, I think it was split largely by whether you have children or not. It appears that those of you that have children think they should definitely be included and those of you that don’t, would quite like to keep it child free.

I totally understand this. When we got married we only had children from the immediate family there. We were restrained on numbers at our venue but to be quite frank, we just didn’t want other kids there. We weren’t at that stage yet and couldn’t see the appeal. Now we have children, I’d definitely include them, especially if we were at a venue like Brook Farm. They’re not as scary and disruptive as you might think or maybe we’re just so used to them now we don’t notice but they actually bring a lot of fun, and happiness to the day. I mean look at the dude above? Tell me his headband/sweet stash and upside down binoculars don’t make you smile?

So what happens when children aren’t invited…? Some of you pointed out that it is actually quite nice for parents to have a break and leave the children with a babysitter (often the grandparents!).  It is far easier to look after the kids in terms of feeding, naps etc when they’re at home but it also means the parents can let loose without having to worry about the little ones.

On the flip side, others told me just how weird it felt to be at a wedding without your kids and if you don’t have any babysitters on hand you have to miss out on the whole day.

It is a tough one but I think it is pretty much like everything else. You have to go with your gut feeling for what YOU want on your wedding day. I certainly wouldn’t have tried to convince the child free me to invite kids to our wedding – I don’t think I’d have listened. I absolutely knew I wanted my nephews there but why would I want any other kids?! It was just not on our radar. It would be a totally different story now though – I would love to have my wedding at Brook Farm with our kids and everyone else’s running around enjoying it all. I think it would be a far more relaxed affair.

You know the drill. It’s your wedding, your way so you do what you want. If you decide not to invite children the parents usually will find a babysitter and still come along and have some fun.  However, if you decide that you are going to invite children then I think we should take a look at a few ideas for how you keep them entertained and what you would do differently and that is going to be a whole new post….

Photo Credit; Marie Wootton Photography

Because no one wants to fall out of a hammock

Yet again we are tackling some of the big issues for outdoor weddings and today it is all about how you get in a hammock. We’re not overly worried about spending time talking about the getting out bit as you all seem to nail that quite easily but the getting in bit? Yep, it’s really a work in progress.

So, hammocks aren’t always here but when a happy couple decide to string them up it can be a bit daunting. You clock the hammock, you imagine how nice it will be laying in it. Generally 99.9% of you will then think about it for some time trying to decide whether you should or should not go for it. At some point, one of you goes for it. It’s like an ice breaker. Once one has tried it then more of you gain confidence. There are varying levels of success and it is great fun.

Our top tips? We reckon the key to trying to sit in a hammock is to go central and you have got to be 100% committed. Plonk yourself right in there! How do we know this? We’ve tried of course! There’s always a bit of dead time just before you arrive so this is when we double check things like hammocks.

Next time you see a hammock we would recommend you give it a go. Inevitably there are hits and misses but once you’re in, there is no other feeling like it!

Photo Credit; Kelsie Low Photography

What About the Weather?

With the temperature now dropping down below freezing, it gave us the idea to post about the good old British weather. We reckon this is THE biggest worry to our couples so as all girl guides know, it is best to be prepared and think about this prior to your big day.

Ok, lets start with the rain. Definitely one of our most frequently asked questions. We’ve talked about this before in the Rain on Your Wedding Day post. Essentially all you  have to do is make sure you have enough space in your marquee/tipi to ensure you can have your drinks reception/blessing inside. It just means that you don’t use every inch of space with tables/chairs etc, you have a bit more space so if you are all standing inside having drinks it is comfortable. Some couples hire some brollies to leave by the door and some put extra pathways down so you have an entrance in to the marquee/tipi and a path to the loos.  Lots of couples do the paths whatever the weather as it looks good. That’s it. Let’s not dwell on this. It might happen but it might not. Everyone is coming to enjoy your day and they will, so just make sure you have enough space for them and you’re sorted.

What about the alternative? You’ve lucked out and you’re forecast an absolute scorcher! It’s what you’ve been dreaming of for the past X months and now it looks like it is going to come true. This is great news, however, you’ve still got to do some prep….

First off, do you have enough shade? Speak to your marquee/tipi company and see if they can offer any additional cover/parasols for shade.

Remember we are a dry site so you need to have lots of drinking water available for your guests. Obviously you can have it on the tables throughout the meal but what about having bottled water out in steel baths/wheelbarrows that are filled with ice so your guests can help themselves to it whenever they want? Make sure it is available from the start, even if you’re having a blessing because if it is a scorcher believe me your guests are going to need it.   Hydration will be the key to you and your guests having a great day in this kind of heat!

Then of course, you have the other little bits you can offer; fans, suncream and we even had a couple who provided sunglasses!

We are a spring/summer venue so these are the only real weather concerns we have here. It is worth investing in a basket of blankets so whether you go out and buy some or you hire them from a company like Peacock Prop Hire the point is, that even on the warmest of days, the temperature can drop during the evening so blankets are a simple but effective solution. There is something quite fun about snuggling up with them in the evening and if you’ve opted for a tipi, the fire pits are a great add on. Everyone loves to have a natter around these.

Of course that is all the stuff you can do to be prepared but making sure your guests are prepared is the other key thing you can do. Make sure they are aware what type of venue you have. Put this in with all of the information you provide to them. Why not point them to our Wedding Guests page which we created with the sole purpose of making sure they’d be prepared and would therefore have the most fun.

So there we have it. We’ve had sooo many weddings here and yes, we’ve had the rain and the scorchers. You and your guests will have a great day so just be prepared and then relax and enjoy.

Photo Credit; Purple Pear Tree Photography

The Wedding Licence Lowdown

We’ve had quite a few messages recently around our wedding licence. We’ve posted about it and put it in our stories but there is only so much info you can fit in those things and understandably, we think you might appreciate a bit of clarity. So let us explain…

We are an arable farm that use a very small part of the land for the gorgeous weddings that you see up here. We don’t just do the weddings because we like them, we also need the income stream to support the volatile farm business.

There is a planning rule referred to as the ’28 day rule’. It means that we can’t use land for anything that is non-agricultural for more than 28 days per year. With the set up and clearance included, each wedding takes a minimum of 4 days. This means we can hold 7 weddings per year without the need for any special permission. Therefore, for more than 7 weddings per year, we need a special permission from the Council.

We’ve been granted permission several times before. Our current permission, which enables us to hold 15 weddings per year, expires at the end of the 2020 season. We therefore have submitted an application to enable us to obtain a new permission from 2021 onwards and that’s what all of the posts / stories are about.

We are so grateful to those of you who have supported the application. We work so hard to make sure we offer a beautiful venue to our couples, support local businesses and make sure our neighbours aren’t affected by it. It really is hard work so it makes it all the more worthwhile when we know we have your support. If there is anyone else that is planning to support the application but just hasn’t had the chance yet, the details of how to do this are noted below.

  1. Click the Link
  2. Enter reference; 07/19/0956/F From here you can access all of the information for our application.
  3. Click on the grey ‘Make Comment’ box
  4. Simply complete the short form

To all of our lovely brides and grooms, suppliers and just as importantly our neighbours in Cuffley and Goffs Oak, we know it is a busy time of year but if you do support the application, taking the couple of minutes needed to register your support for us really will make a difference…..

Anyway, hopefully that has given you all a clear picture of what it’s all about. Please note that none of the weddings already booked are affected. We still have capacity to book weddings in 2021 as we haven’t yet booked all of those first seven weddings yet so please get in touch if you’re interested. We won’t book any more than 7 weddings in 2021 until we have our new permission which we hope to receive in early 2020.

If anyone has any queries or would like further information then please do get in touch. We are very open about all of this and would love to talk to you.


Photo Credit; Hannah Mia 

Why would you ditch the top table?

So it looks like some of you guys are shaking up tradition and ditching the top table. One of our recent polls showed that 70% of you would do this but what we want to know is why? Well, who better to ask then one of our lovely brides that did exactly this here at Brook Farm in September. Carly, it’s over to you.

Brook Farm; Ok, so why did you ditch the traditional top table?

Carly; Our main reason for doing this was because both of our parents have split (although thankfully civil) and we just didn’t want any family politics. We thought it easier to have our families sit together, which was made easier because we had long tables, and for us to sit with our best friends. Plus, we didn’t want to miss out!

Brook Farm; What were your family/friends reactions to it?

Carly; Our friends were thrilled with the idea! Families were fine with it but we did have the odd “how far away are we sitting then?” though!

Brook Farm; Did anyone tell you they thought it was a bad idea or that you shouldn’t do this?

Carly; Not that I remember, but we wouldn’t have listened anyway!

Brook Farm; Did your photographer have any thoughts on it?

Carly; Our photographer was amazing and so easy going. He didn’t have any concerns with us doing this – same goes for our videographer. Anyone who was doing a speech, moved to stand on the dance floor so everyone had a good view.

Brook Farm; Did you just have friends on your table?

Carly; We had a large bridal party, so our table was made up of bridesmaids, groomsmen and their partners.

Brook Farm; Did you enjoy it?

Carly; We really enjoyed it! Our meal wasn’t very long anyway as we had a bbq rather than the traditional 3 courses. Plus we got up and wandered round to our guests so still got to chat to most people.

Brook Farm; How do you think it changed your experience of your wedding day?

Carly; It felt very relaxed, almost like we were out for dinner with our friends, which is exactly how we wanted it to feel.

Well this is certainly something to think about and as with all emerging wedding trends it hangs largely on one thing – whether you actually want to do it! This approach obviously worked amazingly well for Carly and Adam ~ they’re right in the centre of the photo above and they are most definitely enjoying themselves! However, for others the traditional top table is where it’s at. It is great to see different ways of doing things and know there are options out there but it really doesn’t matter what you choose, just as long as it is right for you. #yourweddingyourway

Photo Credit; Michael Maurer Weddings

To Heel or Not To Heel…

Ok, so this is probably not one for the guys but nonetheless this is an important subject. Do you wear heels when you’re going to a wedding that essentially is in a field……

All kinds of heels have been worn here and so it can most definitely be done. However, if you’re a little unsteady on those heels anyway you are really upping the ante by trying to wear them on a grass field. I know, this is not what you want to hear. The heels finish the outfit off just perfectly, right?! Ok, no problem. Wear the heels but consider these top tips:

  • Pack some flats too. You really then can wear whatever heel you like as you have your plan B shoes in case you need them. (Don’t forget to take your heels home!)
  • Go for a wedge or block heel so you’ve got the height but they’re far easier to walk on
  • For the stiletto heel, invest in some heel stoppers

And that ladies is that ~ go strut your stuff!

Photo Credit; Purple Pear Tree Photography

Marie Wootton Photography

Poll Results

I spent a long time on Monday night trying to work out what I’d done wrong with the poll I’d put up on stories. I’d already broken my rule of ‘no checking work emails or social media after 9pm’ so thought I’d go the whole hog and put a little poll up. For a long time, all I could see was the Yes option to the poll showing. In fact it was actually the ‘OMG Yesssss’ option in reply to the question; “Does the thought of creating your own ceremony scare you?” Then the penny dropped. That was the only option you guys were selecting!

It did level out and in the end it ended up that 30% of you said yes and 70% of you laid back lovelies out there were selecting the ‘no, let the fun begin’ option. However, it is still a lot of you that are put off and I’d really like to help you combat any ceremony planning fears so you can tackle them stress free…..

So, if we forget the ceremony bit for a minute, let’s look at the other parts of your DIY wedding. The marquee/tipi/yurt. You’ve chosen it and you love it. Do you put it up yourself? Of course you don’t, you get the professional marquee/tipi/yurt supplier to do it. That’s their job, they know what to do and you can just sit back and let them get on with it.

How about the food? You know what you want, so do you dig out your pinny and plan to rustle it up on the day? No way! You find a professional caterer to do it for you and just enjoy eating it! I think you can see where I’m going with this…..

You don’t get married all of the time so why would you know how to plan your own ceremony? That’s absolutely normal and ok.  You just go to the professionals like you’ve done for all of the other major parts of your wedding. There are so many celebrants out there and this is their job! We’ve talked about this before back in the I Do post and although you may have ideas and certain things that you definitely do want included or definitely don’t want included, you really don’t need to know more than that. Your celebrant will meet with you, get to know you and your partner, find out about your story, your likes and dislikes, what you desire for the day and they will create it for you.

So the only thing you really need to do is select your celebrant… I can highly recommend Janette Smith who has performed many a beautiful blessing here and has a lot of positive feedback from our couples. Then there is Jennifer Patrice who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time this year as she performed a lovely blessing here. And there are so  many more. Holly June Smith and Nat Raybould have recently caught my eye on Instagram so I reckon they are worth a look. But all you really have to do is find someone that you like and trust. They will do the rest.

Photo Credit; Marie Wootton Photography