One minute you’re helping herd the cows in the parlour for milking, and the next you’re helping couples bring their picture-perfect wedding to life.
That’s certainly what it feels like for the Heath family (and all our extended family), who’ve helped make Heaton House Farm the stunning countryside wedding venue that it is today.
It didn’t happen overnight (though it definitely doesn’t feel like over 20 years has flown by), but we really did transform from a real, working dairy farm into an award-winning venue in just a few short years.
Here’s where we all started, and how we did it.
Like when, after a charity concert you held on your farm in aid of the Midlands Air Ambulance, a couple comes up to you and asks if they could get married in your barn with a marquee wedding.
We’re never ones to turn down a challenge, we didn’t know the first thing about putting on a wedding, but we do know how to throw a great party, so we thought, why not!
And so, in 1999, we saw the first barn wedding at Heaton House Farm.
You might think that farming skills are not transferrable to wedding planning and hosting. You’d be wrong.
The care Sarah would take to collect eggs from our chickens, making sure not to break any… that was put to good use carefully putting out all the place cards for wedding guests.
This was after she’d run home from school of course.
Those eagle eyes that Margaret used to spot the birds’ nests in the fields… they can check for attention to detail at every turn with venue dressing, with Margaret acting as an unofficial wedding coordinator before we hired dedicated staff for that role.
And the hands that can milk cows… are hands that can spin decks. After making sure his cows were looked after, Mick would do a quick costume change, hit the DJ decks, and spin up some tunes to get all our wedding guests on the dance floor.
If you’ve got an amazing view across three counties hidden behind your farm buildings, for example, you’ll want to make sure your couples take advantage of it.
So we made sure our wedding barn could open up onto the back patio, and later, we built our oak pagoda for outdoor ceremonies – with the three counties’ view as a stunning backdrop (and an extra-long aisle!).
If you’ve got some hay bales lying around, stack them up and turn them into Mr and Mrs Newlyweds, to greet all your guests as they drive up to your venue. (Introducing… The Strawsons!
And if you’ve made the really difficult decision to sell your dairy cows as you have more and more couples wanting to get married on your farm, make use of those old outhouses and milking parlours.
We turned a barn into our incredible ‘under the stars’ ceremony area. Our tractor drive-through became our oak-beamed wedding barn, and our milking parlour became the Old Stableyard – our on-site restaurant, breakfast room and dedicated event space.
If you don’t have it, build it.
That’s the mantra we adopted, and one we continue to live by.
It’s why we built our on-site accommodation, with 15 bedrooms that can sleep up to 40 guests. It’s why we created our Steeles Barn, named after Sarah’s great-grandad, to extend our space for bigger weddings and stunning dining experiences.
As Nicola, one of our Events Managers, says, “it’s all about keeping the surprises flowing.”
And that’s why we created the pamper room – carefully planned out to ensure the bridal party never crosses paths with the groom, giving them a wonderful place (complete with gorgeous views) to get ready for the big day.
“It’s going down an absolute storm,” says Mick!
Of course., we couldn’t have gotten to where we are today if it wasn’t for the incredible people we work with.
Our amazing staff really are one of a kind. If you want to go from a dairy farm to an award-wedding venue, you need the very best by your side.
The kind of people who work tirelessly to transform barns, dress rooms and chase sheep (when they need to).
Family plays a key part in everything we do. We’re a family-run business, and as Nicola says, “we have a real family-run way of doing things, and we really do look after you here.”
We’re still very much a working farm, so we haven’t completely moved away from our history and heritage. And nor do we want to. It’s a part of who we are and how we got here.
So you’ll still see tractors rolling across our fields and around our buildings. Your guests will still arrive in an unassuming working farmyard… and they’ll turn the corner and be wowed by our wedding venue, leaving at the end of the night in absolute awe.
We’re also very much focused on serving locally grown food with Stable Yard Catering. As Sarah says, “we know where our own produce has been, we know how it’s been farmed, and we know the quality.”
Oh, and we couldn’t forget our lambs, who just love to steal a little of the limelight and photobomb our lovely couples’ wedding photos!
You’ve got to stick with it… and be prepared to see it all!
From helicopters to horse-drawn carriages, glamourous to rustic weddings, we really have seen it all over the last 22 years and hundreds of happy couples.
We’ve adapted and improvised, we’ve learnt from our mistakes, and we’ve continued to work tirelessly to make our farm an incredible place to get married.
We’ve transformed Heaton House Farm into a sensational wedding venue, and with years of experience under our belts, we know exactly how to support our couples in bringing all their dreams to life.
We’ve come a long way, from a dairy farm to an award-winning wedding venue, and we’ve loved every minute of it.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Arrange a show around today and come and see for yourself how we turned our dairy farm into an award-winning wedding venue.