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Venue Showcase: Fanhams Hall

Fanhams Hall is a luxury and unique wedding venue with outstanding warming open fires in winter, tumbling waterfalls in summer and beautiful private rooms. With stunning features of the original Grade II listed Jacobean manor house all year round.

We talked to Symphonie Wolzak, Wedding Manager/ Executive at Fanhams Hall to find out more about this stunning venue.

Tell us about yourself!

Fun fact: I was named after the Hershey’s Chocolate candy bar- hehe! I was born in San Antonio, Texas so am in love with and super proud of my Tex-Mex culture (Texas-Mexican). I consider myself to make the best homemade tortillas in England, as have yet to come across a Mexican restaurant where they are as good as mine! I love to cook, if you haven’t guessed already and my favourite cuisine is my home-land original Tex-Mex of course…very different from Cali-Mex! I’m super blessed my husband loves his spicy food, because to be honest I really don’t know how to not have a bit of chilli in any of my dishes.

What drew you to the wedding world?

The wedding world found me! A friend of mine was working in events and I just graduated university. Lost, confused, and no work family to tag onto in the big city (NYC), she rung me and said, “Hey come try this!”. My first day helping run a wedding with her, I was sold! The excitement and love in the air was so addicting, like sweet cotton candy; you couldn’t leave the room in fear you’d miss out. The adrenaline you get when something goes wrong last minute like the father of bride is running late, or the zip of one of the bridesmaid’s dresses broke just minutes before announcing them into the room! I love having to think in seconds on how to fix it or stall the wedding without the couple finding out or having enough time to worry; these are the moments I live for! Knowing you fixed it and helped make the couples day absolutely perfect without them realising the storm the team went through to get there. What a buzz!

What do you think makes Fanhams Hall unique?

Our team honestly. We all genuinely want the best day for our couples and understand that every wedding is unique, so we really do our best to be flexible and deliver any of their special requests they may have.

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

Once booked with us, we usually know a bit about our couples already. We like to “Sit and Love” with our couples when they first come to meet with us and see the venue, before they even book with us. Listening to the couple about what is important to them and connecting through their excitement and anticipation of one of the most important days of their lives. We believe that a connection before booking with your couple is so important, because it really helps set up the trust relationship between us and the couple, so they have the best planning experience with us. We also do little check ins with our couples to see if they want a coffee catch up to discuss any questions or a zoom call if they can’t make it all the way back to us (like my fellow American couples!).

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What do you think makes for the perfect wedding?

Hmmm…perfect wedding? I’m a cheese ball…I have to say the couple themselves. They are what make the day perfect because they are starting an amazing journey together that is a life changer. I mean what’s more perfect then marrying your best friend? If I have to be choose a materialistic idea…having everything in one place to help make it easier for you and your guests. Accommodation, ceremony, reception, things like this, even the rehearsal dinner if you can. It just make it less complicated in planning, because then you know that the venue you are with (who you choose in the first place!) will be doing their best to make sure you have the perfect wedding celebration whilst there!

What is your #1 wedding planning tip for couples?

When looking for your venue, be sure either to visit it on a rainy day or at least envision the venue in the rain…because if you love it when it’s raining, you’ll love it even more when the suns out and not be too disappointed if it does rain. Let’s be honest we live in England, so better to prepare from the beginning! Oh, and also clear umbrellas. …these are the best for photos on our grounds or wherever you end up choosing. It will still get you outside for gorgeous photos on our grounds and capture the beauty surrounded by you.

What do you love about Bridebook?

How easy it is to use for both couples and us as a venue! Love the little blogs they write and tips they give out. So easy for couples to organise themselves using their nifty tools from guest lists to gift lists, hehe!

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve had at Fanhams Hall?

Being a hairdresser for the little flower girls, minutes before they walked down the aisle. This involved me taking out my own hair and using hair pins on them, because the bride totally forgot about their hair and was running out of time! Also, another time was sewing up the bridesmaid in her dress (I might have mentioned this before!). Her dress split just before we were to announce them into the reception, and here I am with another colleague just sewing her in completely. I think I even ended up using a stapler at one point, because I didn’t have enough thread! Oh and another time was me having to go under the brides dress to adjust her because she felt something rip…it was minutes before she had to walk down the aisle, so had to go under and quickly see what ripped…was just a simple button that needed re-buttoning. Done it and she was off! There’s more of course, but too many to share. Ahhh… just love the whole thrill of being able to help make their day absolutely perfect!

Why should a couple book Fanhams Hall?

A couple should choose Fanhams Hall because not only are we a beautiful 17th Century Jacobean mansion with gorgeous unique Japanese style gardens and an authentic Japanese Tea house! What wedding venue in England can say they have authentic Japanese style gardens?! Another reason why couples should book us is that we love weddings! We love weddings so much we really try to meet our couples unique requirement to make their day that more special. We’ve been flexible from our menus (Asian- English infusion anyone?) to creating a couple’s signature cocktail for the day for their guests to order from the bar. We love being apart of our couples special day from beginning to end, and genuinely want to help make it a day they wont forget, so the little unique requests we can do, we will!

What’s the best photo spot at Fanhams Hall?

Ohhhhh there are so many!!!! I have to say two if that’s okay?! First one is in the main grounds outside our formal gardens with Fanhams Hall in the background. Second one is in the fields near the main entrance, surprising I know! Lots of people think I would have said our Wisteria walk or near the rose garden, which are both really beautiful, but I do love the fields in August and September where the grass is over grown and you get these really beautiful rustic and dreamy photos…you could be anywhere in the world, but it’s so gorgeous!!! Makes me want to put on my wedding dress and take photos there! Haha!

What part of your business are you most proud of?

Fanhams Hall, which is part of the Exclusive Collection Group, has become the first ever hospitality business to receive a B-Corp accreditation. This means being recognised as a sustainable business. B-Corp will improve the value we create for our customers through the service we give, and help improve our impact on the planet by learning how to practise environmental stewardship. It really is a fantastic accomplishment and am super proud to be apart of this milestone.

How do you feel technology is changing the industry?

For couples, technology allows people to shop in the comfort of their own homes! It’s easy access for them. It really give them the chance to really search what they are looking for and not  waste time visiting venues face to face, or having in person meetings with loads of different suppliers trying to decide what is right for them. Social media especially helps them “stalk-shop”- Instagram is great for this! For us as suppliers, it helps us reach more potential couples looking for support on their wedding. We can have all of our information readily available for them to see and even experience for themselves. We can reach a whole other country even, like America or South Africa! We currently have American couples getting married here who have found us online and loved our photos and videos on our Instagram page. Technology has helped us get them to see the venue, book and plan their wedding with us here at Fanhams Hall. We are not just focusing on one country; we are able to reach the whole world this way, which is really amazing!

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

Talk to each other. Communication is so important, you may both find you two are feeling the exact same way about things. If you are both are struggling, then find a professional to talk to together to help you both overcome this struggle together. It’s not a bad thing to find a un-bias mind out there to help guide you through these trying times, because fact is, this is not normal and its okay to struggle with it all. Find peace and reassurance in the fact that if you two can get through this together, you two can make it through anything. Keep each other positive about the wedding. If one of you starts feeling upset or down about the wedding plans, pick each other up. Have a fun distraction like date night, or start making the wedding favours together and imagining how the day will go.

What is your favourite part of the wedding day?

If you haven’t guessed already, we love weddings! My favourite part of a wedding day is when I get to fluff the brides dress before she walks down the aisle. Goosebumps every time watching them take those final steps to marry their best friend!

A huge thank you to Symphonie Wolzak for answering our questions. Check out Fanhams Hall on Bridebook!
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