You are only as good as your last wedding says the owner of Cornish venue, Trevenna
Former city lawyer Jonathan Rowe has realised the potential of his family farm, turning a series of out buildings and meadows into a destination wedding venue.
When did you start your function venue business?
I was working in London as a lawyer and keen to do something with the stone buildings at our family farm, Trevenna, back in Cornwall. The barns were no longer of practical use. The renovations started in 2005, and we opened with a wedding in 2006, with 2016 being our 10-year anniversary.
Tell us about your location and site
We are blessed with beautiful views of Cornwall, surrounded by our farm fields in a historic location combining to create a destination wedding venue.
The original stone barns and farm house are flanked by towering beech trees, and provide a romantic backdrop to any outdoor celebrations in the gardens and meadows.
The renovations were a massive undertaking. Our remote location has brought the usual challenges of poor internet connectivity and expensive utility supplies. Our private spring water supply now has a mains water back up just in case.
What facilities for outdoor functions do you offer?
Trevenna is licensed for outdoor ceremonies under the Arbour, a green oak, traditionally built structure with a reclaimed slate roof. It is the second arbour we have built since opening; it’s now wider to cope with a line of bridesmaids. We provide a choice of chairs or hay bales for seating. Ceremonies take place in the Threshing Barn when the weather is not so kind.
Celebrations are held in the Venue, formed from the stone threshing barn and an oak and canvas structure with a permanent slate floor, hard wired electrics and heating. The Venue provides the neutral open space of a freestanding marquee, but with the practical aspects of a building. A recent major investment in additional toilets and disabled facilities has been greatly appreciated by couples and guests.
A cluster of six luxury barns and the original farm house (I have been rehoused), provide accommodation for 40 adults in big beds, with private lounges and self-catering kitchens. Guests warm up on the underfloor heating, enjoy ‘drench’ showers of spring water, and designer furnishings with a five-star grade.
What services do you offer?
All events are created around freshly prepared local food. Our new farm kitchen opens up into the Venue, allowing guests to see our chefs finishing off their wedding feasts.
We provide a fully catered experience from welcome cream teas, welcome dinners the night before the wedding, hearty breakfasts and the entire wedding feast and evening munchies.
Our two bars are stocked with local draft ales, ciders and lagers, all chilled by newly installed cellar systems. Our cocktail list focuses on Cornish spirits.
All couples receive a fully inclusive service from event planning through to delivering the event from our chefs, bar and hosting teams. Our food festivals are popular with couples when creating their unique wedding feast menu. Our team members rise to around 30.
Describe how you researched and sourced your marquee
We have invested in most of our own equipment, as in the long run it is easier than dealing with multiple external suppliers and relying on their time scales for deliveries etc. It’s a huge investment, but cuts down on communication/waiting around, and allows us to operate smoothly. When buying our own marquee, we went to the manufacturer of the marquees which we had previously hired.
Inside the marquee, we offer a choice of round or trestle tables, also rustic trestle tables that do not require cloths, and a choice of chairs.
How do you work with your customers to make their event unique?
Our full-time events team is committed to hospitality. They listen, gather information and design an event around a couple’s requirements. Our team understands how the site operates, so is able to manage different requests and ideas from our couples, and importantly pull it all off.
How do you publicise yourself?
We use a spread of marketing channels, the best being word of mouth from our married couples and their guests. It’s a constant project of updating our website with new images, blogging about trends and ideas, posting news on Instagram and Facebook, contributing to wedding magazines, and listings on online directory websites.
What differentiate you as a business?
All our events are unique and brought about by a commitment to customer service. We aim for all our guests to have a great time by delivering a one off experience in a beautiful location.
We also have an ethos of sustainability. After studying Biology at University, and as a farmer’s son, I am well aware of the sensitivities of a new business operating within a rural landscape. During our second year we achieved Gold at the Green Tourism Awards. Every aspect of our operations was considered from the ‘buy local, use less and recycle more’ policy, to the energy efficient district heating system, lighting and the masses of insulation in the barn roofs. Eco friendly initiatives include installing bat boxes in the trees and hedgerow management for birds and wild flowers.
Our commitment to training young employees is unique and we reach out to our community by hosting charity events for local organisations, the churches, school and clubs. Local B&Bs, hotels and pubs have benefited from guests who were unable to stay with us. The regeneration of Trevenna has had a positive impact on our remote village.
What challenges have you faced?
The business was built from scratch. The location demanded a significant capital investment, taking it from a farm yard into a wedding village. Recruiting staff of the right calibre is a constant focus.
What are your plans for next season?
We are continuing to invest in a quality experience for our couples and their guests in a market where customer expectations are always increasing. It never stops. We just opened the new Farm House Bar, and the new showers for campers will be open by the summer.
Describe your average day mid-season
With guests staying every day and night, Trevenna is a 24-hour business. I am on call regardless of whether I have a shift. The team starts at 6am making homemade breads and will stay overnight to ensure guest safety.
Do you enjoy the business?
Customer service keeps you on your toes but provides instant gratification. The feedback is very rewarding for all of Team Trevenna.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
We do offer a small amount of camping on Farm House Lawn.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
Be prepared for a lifestyle change. Set out your stall and deliver on that promise. It is always at the front of our minds that we are only as good as our last wedding.
St. Neot, Cornwall, PL14 6NR