Venue Showcase: Dewsall Court

Are you looking for a romantic countryside venue for your special day? Is a close-knit and passionate wedding team a must-have for you? We might have just the place for you…

The beautiful Dewsall Court is a stunning 17th century estate in the Herefordshire countryside. The owner and director, Samantha, shares the story of their unique venue below.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Blonde woman smiling into camera.

We have been running our family home, Dewsall, as a wedding venue for a decade and we love it! I have 2 boys aged 9 and 10 so you can imagine what life was like having babies while the business was very much a baby itself!

The things I love are: cooking in and dining out, parties (big or small), travel (especially off the beaten track) learning new wisdoms, reading (18th and 19th century novels holding a special place in my heart – such a romantic), nature and the countryside, writing, theatre and most of all, hanging out with my friends and family who make me laugh and laugh!

What drew you to the wedding world?

After my beloved Dad passed away out of turn, we decided to create a business together as a family. It was 2010 and we were all struggling with the effects of the economic crash. But we found people still wanted to get married and with a beautiful house with extensive gardens, a church and a super cool party barn it was clear that weddings were for us! Mum and I have been running Dewsall together ever since and we love it! It is also a real joy to spend time with people who are very much in love and full of positivity for the future, wanting to bring their favourite people together to celebrate the union of two families. What’s not to like about that!? I told you I was a romantic

What do you think makes Dewsall Court unique?

A famous 3 Michelin star chef once said that Dewsall was like ‘Spring Water’ and I think he is right! There is a special certain something which no film, website, or social media channel can quite capture. It combines a sense of special occasion with a down-to-earth atmosphere and an incredibly romantic vibe with a true sense of party, celebration and above all, fun. Our team is phenomenal and goes above and beyond. We are genuinely a family and support one another to the nth degree in the business of making sure our guests have a truly extraordinary stay. We are so lucky, really.

How do you get to know your couples before the big day?

This is fundamental to the Dewsall way. We don’t want the key people in your wedding team to be faceless strangers with clipboards. By their wedding day our couples have got to know their team very well over face to face meetings, emails, skype calls etc. One of our very favourite things though, is our tasting event when couples are invited to try many different dishes, beautifully paired wines, meet the wider team, see the Wainhouse in action and experience the level of service we provide. We absolutely adore these events and so do our guests – it really gets everyone excited for when the menu is designed by you, and the room is filled with those closest to you!

What do you think makes for the perfect wedding?

Atmosphere! This is the key and it seeps into so much of the overall picture. It is in the magic of the venue: design, team and service, and its ability to keep all guests comfortable, happy and positive. We appreciate that weddings are for all ages and being able to accommodate the comfort and contentment of them all, is really important. Keeping everyone upbeat, positive, deliciously nourished and totally ready to party is the name of the game and it is at the source of everything we do.

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve had at Dewsall Court?

Gosh, where to begin?! Every single wedding is memorable in its own way – that’s what keeps things fresh and fun for us and bespoke and unique for our couples. Over the last 10 years we have had countless celebrities from Hollywood actors to international pop stars to absolute legends in their field. But often our favourite memorable things would be specific cultural or religious traditions, massive family tugs of war, fire shows, ice cream entertainment, and so on.

Why should a couple book Dewsall Court?

One of the key things about Dewsall is that our weddings are a 2-night stay which really makes for a beautiful retreat away. Everything you need is on site at Dewsall and once you arrive you are 100% looked after. The food we offer is second to none with couples so often reporting back to us words such as “our guests said it was the best food they have ever had…” or “I can’t stop thinking about all the food we have enjoyed over the weekend.” The house host, Fiona, your event manager and catering manager are so accomplished and devoted to what they do and they are all so often name checked in the guestbook and testimonials. We all simply love Dewsall, our colleagues and our guests and the kind of amazing events we carry out – and all this love? It shows!

What is your #1 wedding planning tip for couples?

Remember the point of a wedding is to celebrate love and the marriage and always bear in mind the wonderful privilege of being able to gather your most special friends and family to do this – root this in your decision making processes. It is such a joyous day! The venue should be on your side, working with you, aiming to put into action your vision. Having worked so hard to bring it all to life, it is important to let go on the day and let your suppliers take over. Also, and this is a very practical one, try to encourage your photographer to take a photo of the food – it’s something you spend a huge amount of your budget on, so it wil be nice to look back and remember.

What’s the best photo spot at Dewsall Court?

There are some great places for a photo in the house but the gardens have it for me. When my Mum and Dad bought Dewsall it had been derelict for over 30 years and had no garden – they were brilliant at creating first a home and then a place of celebration and the garden design is no different. There are pockets and ‘rooms’ to celebrate spring, the Mediterranean, their trip to India, Titanic, etc. And even now, my heart races a little when I come across a wedding photo from an ordinary area of the garden which has been lit up by the artist’s eye and the happiness of the couple. We often get recommended to couples by photographers and I find that incredibly flattering.

What part of your business are you most proud of?

Too hard a question! Probably the team – The Dewsall Family. We are a very close bunch and get on like a house on fire. No day goes by without us having a proper all out laugh, even on the most ordinary day. I think this is something our couples and their guests get a sense of. We are genuinely happy to be at work! I also have to say that I am incredibly proud of the food as well. We have personal high standards and a wide knowledge of food as a family and it was always VITAL that this carried through the business.

Finally, I would say my Mum, who at 50 and newly widowed, decided to take the plunge and become a businesswoman, something she always knew she had in her. She’s still not a massive fan of reading a balance sheet but she is the guiding force, the style, the standards, and I am privileged to work so closely with her.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to couples that are currently struggling amidst the COVID-19 crisis?

I feel so very sad that couples who were on the precipice of stepping into the next chapter of their lives are now finding themselves on pause, effectively. However, I would say relationships and love are not on pause and once you have dealt with the admin of postponement, dust off, step forth together and focus on your new date.

I would also suggest that when your original date comes round, if you are still in lockdown or similar, do something beautiful, just the two of you to mark the day that was going to be the one. My own wedding at Dewsall (before we were a venue) was carried out quickly and under the enormous cloud of a dying father. When your friends and family all galvanise together to make sure you have the best day, the atmosphere is a phenomenon. I predict that those postponed weddings are going to GO OFF! And the joy of being able to hang out and have fun together again is going to be a spectacle! I’m very excited about this in our future.

What do you love about Bridebook?

Well, of course, I love your tech-focused approach which I think is really important. But I also really like my personal relationship with Beth and Gabi, my Account Managers. One thing that I think Bridebook and our company Hostology have in common is that you can actually use technology in such a way that it actually strengthens the real relationship you have with a customer, client or colleague. I find that especially important in the world of weddings.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to sit in my lockdown and focus on and relish in all the wonderful things about weddings and running Dewsall – it really has been a positive thing to do during such a strange time!

Check out Dewsall Court on Bridebook!