Lessons from Lockdown

Venue owner James Martin shares Baddow Park House’s plans for coming out of lockdown.

Baddow Park House2020 was set to be a busy year at Baddow Park House. We were nearing the end of our extensive renovations and weddings were due to commence in the spring with a full quota booked for the summer and beyond. Coronavirus then hit, the country went into lockdown and we had no idea when we would be able to host a wedding again.

We had been meticulous with our business planning and enlisted the help of several industry experts but nobody could have forecast the turbulent times that lay ahead.

Fast forward a few months and businesses are starting to tentatively reopen whilst the wedding industry as we know it has remained largely closed.

With the widespread reporting of many businesses struggling to survive, here at Baddow Park House we took the following steps to not only secure our future but really do the best for our couples during these uncertain times, and want to share our advice with others.

1. Communicate
Married couple at Baddow ParkNever has it been more crucial to have constant, regular communication with existing couples to keep them in the loop as much as possible and, most importantly, reassure them.

Whilst we have successfully rescheduled all of our couples that wanted to postpone their wedding to 2021, we do have a handful of couples that simply do not wish to wait any longer to get married. This inevitably means trading the lavish celebrations they were planning for a smaller, more intimate ceremony.

As we find ourselves in a constant state of flux, these couples have had to be fluid with their plans for a smaller ceremony as restrictions can change at any point. We therefore find it best practice to stay in regular contact so that we can keep each other informed of any relevant changes or updates.

2. Be flexible
Glasses set up on table in hotelAs some of our couples have opted to go ahead with these smaller ceremonies, we have to make some adjustments in order to keep them and their guests safe. After a lot of research we have taken the decision to invest in an innovative new product which ‘fogs’ our venue. It forms a protective barrier against Covid-19 by breaking up the virus’ cell wall and terminating the pathogen immediately upon contact. It remains bonded to the surface for up to 30 days, ensuring that all bacteria and viruses remain eliminated. Our couples have told us that they appreciate the lengths we are going to in order to keep them as safe as possible.

While it can be tempting to cut back on costs, now is the best time to promote and invest in your business. We found that during lockdown and beyond, we really have a captive audience that now has the time to read our articles, blogs and other marketing. We have spent more time updating our social media accounts, taken more ‘paid’ advertisements and worked with a PR expert to really push our business to the next level.

We have thought long and hard about our business model, how we can adapt this to our current environment and what the new ‘normal’ will look like in the future. It could have been appealing to try and increase the number of bookings in order to increase future revenue but after studying various business plans and forecasts, we actually decided to stay true to our brand with a scaled back number of weddings.

It means we can produce a quality wedding experience every time for our couples. A major benefit of this approach in the current climate also means we have the time to thoroughly clean and disinfect the venue between events.

We feel like this approach also offers some protection should there be a second lockdown, allowing ourselves the extra capacity to reschedule dates should the need arise.

3. Adapt
People enjoying an event at Baddow Park HouseWe have also spent time trying to come up with unique business ideas to implement over the next few months. We know that those who planned overseas weddings may have now been put off from such celebrations, so we have adapted our space, catering and style to suit. We have created an experience which allows couples to recreate that overseas wedding feel with the convenience of staying in the UK.

We believe that 2021 will be an extremely busy year for weddings so we are working with celebrants and registrars who may otherwise be difficult to book. We are also accrediting and training ‘in-house’ staff so they can produce a ceremony or blessing if required to assist with availability.

Communication, flexibility and the ability to adapt is our three pronged approach to riding out the Covid-19 storm and bullet proofing our business should we be hit with a second wave of restrictions.



James Martin is the owner and MD of Essex-based country house wedding venue Baddow Park House near Chelmsford. www.baddowpark.co.uk



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