Tanya Wood is a Director at Soho House & Co and has been with the company for eight years. In August 2016 she got married at Soho Farmhouse in front of 90 friends and family. This is how she planned her Soho House wedding.

'We got married on August 21st 2016 at Soho Farmhouse, arriving the day before to hang out with close family. We had the ceremony and the drinks reception at the actual farm house, followed by dinner and a party in the Barwell barn, then onto the Mill Barn for those still standing.'

I was with Nick the day he discovered the farm about five years ago, and I started working on the concept for Soho Farmhouse straight away. By the time it opened, we had all spent so much time there that it felt like a second home, and I was just in love with the farmhouse itself. So when Steve and I got engaged in November 2015 I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I immediately had visions of a wedding in front of that house! We started planning from the February onwards and I count myself really lucky as I of course knew the venue inside out, trusted the team there implicitly to deliver something amazing, and had the amazing Farmhouse event planner – and my friend, Natalie Rolls, to hold my hand throughout.'

 

 

'Ultimately, as with when we approach the design or concept of any new House, I think you have to be led by the bones and soul of the building or location, so it’s fair to say that the Farm style was the leading factor. We knew we wanted our wedding to feel as if we’d taken over a country house, not a ‘wedding venue’, with a sense of fun (for example, I got to travel to the ceremony in one of the Farm tuk tuks), so it lent itself perfectly to our vision and was very easy to build on.'

 

Wild Flowers

'I used to run the annual Soho House party at the Hay Festival and I had that style in my head for the wedding: we always said at Hay that it should look like you’d just pulled it together – gone into the house and raided the crockery and cutlery, that the flowers looked wild and beautiful – as if someone had just returned from the cutting garden and put them into any vases or bottles they could find.

For example, my bouquet and the bridesmaids posies were bound with twine and delivered to my cabin in little old milk bottles, with the posies were sized down to the tiniest bridesmaid.) But even though I think we managed to achieve that look, more work went into all that detail than any other aspect!'

Personal touches

'We wanted to make sure the wedding had personal touches from us so, for example, the table name cards were old parcel tags tied around vintage Penguin books as Steve is a journalist and writer. We bought them by the yard from a supplier we often use to dress bookshelves in the Houses.'

Food & drink

'I actually think food and drink is the most important factor of any event, so I wrote my own menu. Keep the drink flowing, the food coming and surprise people a little bit: you want them to have a drink in their hand before they’ve thought ‘I want a drink’ and the food down before they start to wonder where it is. And everything should be plentiful – that’s why we went for family style dining, with big dishes of food being passed down the tables. We had three long tables rather than more typically formulaic round ones so it felt like a big feast with a great visual impact and less like a considered table plan with no hierarchy – which solves any potential political family issues!'

'Then later on there were piles of marshmallows for toasting by the fire pit, and Welsh Rarebit midnight munchies in the bar. All-in-all, understated and over-delivered: I’ve been with Soho House so long, it’s ingrained in me!'

Stylish but informal

'I often think that people underestimate the importance of the team working at your wedding and the huge influence they can have on your guests’ experience. You want a friendly but professional team who care about what they’re doing and are focussed on making sure everyone feel welcome and has a great time. When the rain came down towards the end of our ceremony, umbrellas seemed to appear from nowhere for our guests and the sense of fun about the situation amongst the staff was contagious; the whole drinks reception had to move indoors – by that point, the guests were mucking in and moving furniture too – we were mortified but everyone had a great time!’

 

'We just wanted people to have a good time. We got speeches out of the way in between courses instead of all in one go at the end – so the groom could get over his nerves and the party could start straight after dinner - then we skipped a first dance and instead did a Jewish Hora – where you’re hoisted up on chairs and the everyone gets involved – it was a great way to get the party going. The rest of the DJ’s playlist was a mixture of our own favourites and that of our guests – we’d asked everyone to request a song with their RSVP if they wanted to.’

‘The topic of gifts always feels a bit controversial somehow – it’s not very ‘British’ to ask for things is it?! As we felt quite set up at home, we didn’t really ‘need’ anything, but we just couldn’t afford a honeymoon so we set up a page where you design the whole thing and guests are invited to contribute towards the cost of a flight, a meal, an experience – it was so lovely to then go away and know that all of our friends and family had contributed to such an unforgettable experience.’

'If I had to pick out the key design elements that made ours feel like a ‘Soho House’ wedding I would say the following:

First impressions: When everyone arrived for the ceremony we had a old farm cart acting as a drinks wagon on the lawn, and hay bales with mismatched cushions laid out as the pews.

Lighting: Getting the right balance of candlelight and overhead lighting is really important to creating the right atmosphere.

Tableware: I was very particular about glassware: there’s a massive difference between standard contract glasses and having a beautiful glass in your hand - that’s half the drink. And then of course the crockery, cutlery, serving dishes, linen, salt and pepper pots, vases and candle holders. They were all selected to create a relaxed, rustic but pretty dining experience. It’s also worth making sure you space things with consideration along the table, making sure there’s enough room for serving plates so nobody’s left holding a bowl of veg!

Other little touches included cosy blankets for anyone feeling chilly outside, candlelit lanterns along the paths, an old chalkboard leaning against the barn door for the table plan.Some of our guests took over the Farm’s campsite so I made little goodie bags to greet them in their tents with marshmallows and sticks to toast them on the campfire. The kids’ table at dinner was an old door on some hay bales – the bridesmaids got to travel on one of the milk floats to the wedding. I wanted every aspect to feel rustic and didn’t want anything to look ‘perfect’ – even our wedding cake was a big old Eton Mess.'

All photography Catherine Mead catherinemead.com @catherinemead

 

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