Well, ones things for sure: we can’t say we never get variety! From the mountainous climbs of the Northumbrian fells to the sweeping, the, luxurious gardens of Berkshires finest hotels, we’ve already had the pleasure of singing and strumming in some of the countries most aesthetically pleasing backdrops. Our last gig, however, took us to the heart of Conwy Valley, Northern Snowdonia at the beautiful Hafod Farm.
The first thing that struck us about Hafod Farm was how easy it was to find; just over a mile north of Betws-Y-Coed, just off the A470. This always comes in handy, especially when you have many guests travelling from far and wide as getting to the venue can be stressful enough without having to negotiate twists and turns on narrow country roads. As we pulled up into the drive we were greeted warmly by Hafod Farms owners Joanne and Pete who immediately made us feel welcome and made us a cup of tea. Joanne explained that they had already 30 weddings booked, and like us, this was a first for them as today was their first wedding!
Joanne then proceeded to give us a guided tour of the property. Hafod Farm consists of several converted buildings dating back to the 16th century. The Tall Barn, a great II listed building is even older at 500 years old, and it is here where many of the ceremonies, receptions and even wedding breakfasts take place. The Tall Barn can seat up to 80 guests and leads out onto a wildflower garden where a marquee can be provided for both day and evening receptions.
As we made our way around the farm buildings we could tell that Joanne and Pete had got everything bang on. This was the perfect rural wedding venue. The farmhouse could accommodate four couples, the Cart Barn made a beautiful bridal suite and the stables had been converted into a state of the art dining area. All conversions had been carried out to the highest standards, furnished with all mod cons including underfloor heating, yet retaining the farms original features to maintain the rustic feel.
It was when Joanne took us round to the camping field where we were completely taken aback by the breathtaking views of the Gwydir Forest and it’s surrounding hills. This sheltered area provides acres of fields for children to play safely and for tents to be erected if needed. As a photographic backdrop, the scenery is simply awesome even on an overcast day. What struck us most was the fact that this was obviously a labour of love for Joanne and Pete and not a stone had been left unturned in every aspect of the execution of this venture. Every detail, from the festival chic bunting which adorned the walls of a whitewashed converted cow shed, to the lampshades made from steel milking buckets; so much thought and planning had obviously gone into making this the perfect wedding venue.
We were soon joined by the bride and groom, Verity and Stephen, who had seen us play previously in Glossop. We all decided that it would be best to perform the evening reception in the converted out-building, as there was a bar by the entrance and plenty of space for guests to sit and drink as the evening went on. As the party consisted of only 40 guests this was a great size for a smaller party crowd and fantastic for us, as we were seated by a wood-burning stove and were both kept warm all evening!
Evening functions can vary from party to party as evenings can pan out differently depending on several factors, such as the size of the venue, number of guests, age of guests, whether people have to be up early the next day, whether there’s a DJ to play after the band, where the band maybe playing in the building and if there is even a dance floor. But for this evening party, it was what we’d class as the most perfect, cosy, intimate sing-a-long evening reception you could ever wish for from a wedding.
Some guests danced, some guests sat, sang and drank, but all stayed listening throughout our duration. Not only did the wedding guests make this a magical evening, but the sheer hard work behind the scenes of Pete and Joanne who were constantly making sure that peoples glasses were full and that the stove was well lit! All the guests were proactive and kept us on our toes with some great song requests, ranging from Bowie, The Stereophonics, The Smiths, The Clash to Indie hits. One guest called Al was particularly fond of his Indie songs, but we had to play him Paul Simon’s ‘Call me Al’. Ben, a friend of Al, then asked us to play George Formby’s ‘When I’m cleaning windows’ as Ben said; “He looks just like him!” This obviously brought the house down! Of course, as musicians we always gauge the humour of an audience and instinctively know when to keep the proceedings formal, or when to relax and join in with the bonhomie of the crowd.
We started playing at 6:30pm and finished at 11pm and the time literally flew. A stove was then brought in to serve up meat and potato stew which was the homemade recipe of guest Julie from Hadfield (and delicious that was, too!). A couple of the guests had brought their dogs along which added to the wonderful festival-like spirit of the day, also proving what a relaxed, warm and accommodating environment Hafod Farm really is.
So thanks to Verity and Stephen, it was a pleasure to play for your wedding and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did…. and if you are looking for a laid-back, festival-chic style wedding venue, where your guests can camp and have real, rustic wedding experience, take a look at Hafod Farm, as this venue is a real one off. Better be quick though, because as word spreads, this venue will be getting booked up really quick!