Rebel & Anchor is an events producer and wedding planner based in Cornwall with over 20 years of experience planning weddings. In this blog, we asked for their advice on planning an exclusive hire wedding at Boconnoc.
Choosing a Wedding Venue
There is nothing better than finding a venue that gives you goosebumps, and even better if it can be exclusively yours for you and your guests to enjoy. Country estate venues might sometimes feel too traditional and restrictive. But Boconnoc is none of those things. Yes, it’s set in 700 acres and steeped in history, but ultimately, the keys are handed to you, and anything is possible.
There are the beautiful gardens, the cobbled courtyard of the Stable Yard complex with its rustic party spaces, games room and bohemian “pub”. Then there’s the house with the grandeur of two reception rooms, a drawing room and a bar area, all given a slick of modern luxe by the estate’s very own interior designer, Sarah Fortescue, while still honouring the elegance that’s at the heart of Boconnoc House. Boconnoc’s extensive grounds include an “Album Cover” photo opportunity in a sunken Georgian Bath House. There’s the Jurassic vibe of the Fernery, with a granite bath that can be decadently filled with ice, champagne caviar or oysters.
So, you come to Cornwall, take a tour of Boconnoc, fall in love with it, and your venue is chosen. What’s next? Exclusive hire can seem overwhelming, but here is my guide to planning an exclusive hire wedding.
Your Day Your Way
Begin by considering the style and atmosphere that you want for your weekend. The great thing about an exclusive hire is that you can create an experience that reflects your personality and values as a couple. You can draw inspiration from the estate, as it may offer unique features or characteristics that can guide your process. For instance, you may opt for a quintessentially English garden or a modern and luxurious theme that complements the grandeur and history of the house. Alternatively, go for a rock n’ roll or hedonistic glam vibe. The important thing is to let your creativity take the lead and design a weekend that feels authentic and meaningful to you both.
Styling is subjective; remember that trends aren’t always the best idea. They come and go, and you don’t want to look back on your images and think, “What were we thinking!?”
Again, think about who you are as a couple. Is there anything that has meaning to you, a colour, music, scent or type of flower? Sometimes less is more, and I’d advise once you’ve done the initial crazy pinning on a Pinterest board, revisit and pin with purpose! Hone your style and speak to your florist or planner to create that perfect setting. Your style will help you find the flow of your weekend and the experience you want for yourselves and your guests.
Wedding Guest Accommodation
One of the great things about getting married at an exclusive hire estate like Boconnoc is that you can bring friends and family together in one place. Boconnoc can accommodate up to 54 guests across various buildings on the estate, including the House, Cottages, and Stewardary, making it the perfect location for a memorable celebration. You can plan who will stay on-site with you, where they will stay, and who you want to be around to share in your special day’s excitement. It’s essential to consider your guests’ experience, especially if they are travelling a long distance to attend your wedding in Cornwall. Providing them with a hamper of essentials is always a thoughtful touch if they are staying on the estate. Upon arrival, Boconnoc offers all on-site guests a cream tea and breakfast essentials. You could also add handwritten notes to welcome and make them feel at home.
Enjoy seeing some of your closest friends and family the night before your wedding by hosting a pre-wedding party. This is an excellent time for everyone to catch up and get to know each other, ensuring your guests are relaxed and ready for your big day. Boconnoc offers the Stable Yard as a perfect location for casual dining, think street food, BBQ or food trucks, with trestle tables, festoon lighting, fire pits, a games room, and an outdoor bar vibe. You can add a band or your playlist to the mix to make the evening even more enjoyable but chilled and low-key, different from the day itself.
Wedding ceremony location
During the planning stages, you’ll need to decide on the ideal location for your ceremony. Most estates offer both indoor and outdoor options. Boconnoc has many licensed areas, including a church, a rustic barn, Dorothy Garden, a sunken bath, and many more. It’s essential to visit your venue beforehand and visualise how your walk down the aisle will be. If you prefer an outdoor ceremony, know the indoor weather option and get excited about that, too.
On the day, the organisation
On your wedding day, it’s vital that you and your partner and your bridal party feel relaxed and enjoy the day. To ensure everything runs smoothly, you should ensure that the Venue Coordinator and your Wedding Planner have everything under control. If you’ve hired a planner, they will help you create a running schedule and ensure it’s followed on the day. They will also assist in setting up the venue the day before. If you don’t have a planner, don’t worry. At Boconnoc, the in-house Coordinator and Hospitality Manager will ensure your day runs smoothly. They will communicate with your suppliers or wedding planners beforehand to ensure they know the timings and have all the relevant access details.
Before the ceremony, offering guests a drink is good, even if it’s just elderflower cordial, especially to those who have travelled and are not staying on-site. You can also get the groomsmen to help park and direct guests as they arrive on-site.
After the ceremony, it is recommended that the newly married couple take some time alone before greeting their guests. Guests can be directed to a photo opportunity for a confetti shot or led to the drinks reception. The beauty of a country estate wedding is that if the weather is good, an outdoor drinks reception with canapés or oysters is idyllic.
For catering, it is advisable to check the venue’s recommended supplier list as they are familiar with the venue’s kitchen and have been seen in action by the venue. However, if you want something different, feel free to go for it; ensure the caterers visit the venue before the wedding day and preferably have a tasting on-site. When it comes to the wedding breakfast, choose a style that suits your day. If you prefer a traditional roast, go for it. Or, if you want something more exotic, go for it too. The feasting style is trendy and allows guests to share dishes, making it a natural icebreaker.
When planning your meal, consider the type of table setup that works best for you. Traditional round or long tables are usually the way to go. One important decision to make is whether or not you want to have a top table.
Day to night
After dinner, it’s important to transition your guests from the dining experience to party mode. As a planner, guiding guests subtly without them realising it is crucial. No one likes feeling like they’re being herded, but you can make the transition smoother by having a cake-cutting ceremony, group photo opportunity, or signature cocktail waiting for them. This helps to signal the end of dinner and the start of the party. When it comes to the party, there are many entertainment options to choose from, including bands, DJs, singers, and ceilidhs. Music is essential to a wedding experience, and there are several opportunities throughout the day to showcase it, such as the ceremony, processional, recessional, reception drinks, first dance, and party.
Although it may not be the most exciting part of the planning process, you can relax and enjoy the event once the logistics are sorted. Your Wedding Planner or Venue Coordinator will oversee the smooth running of everything. It is essential to consider transportation for guests who are not staying on-site. If they are in nearby hotels, organising a minibus or coach is a good idea as it guarantees that everyone arrives and leaves the venue on time.
The Next Day
Post-Party: The day after party can be challenging for some people, either because of the overindulgence from the previous night or the need to tidy up and pack away. This is why having an exclusive hire can be advantageous, as it provides extra time to enjoy breakfast with family and friends, reminisce about the previous day, or create new memories. For those who decide to stay on, the next day can be fun with activities like grazing picnics, rounders, outdoor cinema, and pizza.
Finally, Enjoy! Hire the perfect photographer and videographer to capture your weekend and re-live the memories for years.