Mar 26 2013
When the power went out at 7pm on Friday night in a heavy blizzard (which was adding to the 4” of snow we already had at Larchfield), we knew it was going to be a busy weekend as we had a wedding here on the Saturday.
When Debbie and Philip booked Larchfield for their wedding on the 23rd March 2013 I don’t think that they envisaged Larchfield Estate would be under 8 inches of snow with drifts of up to 2ft in places! I know we offer an alternative wedding venue, but we don’t usually offer snow blizzards for your wedding reception in Co Down at the end of March!
Gavin drove the roads the night before (to make sure there were tracks in the snow that wouldn't be quite so deep that we could follow the next morning) and then spent an hour taking off what snow he could remove from the marquee roof - the weight of it could easily have brought the marquee down. We went to bed hoping that the 80 guests who were stuck at various airports in Scotland and England would make it over on time…
By 8am on Saturday we were in the office (the generator also meant we could have a hot cuppa there as no hot water or electricity in the main house!) and Philip the Estate Manager was out on the snow plough clearing both the Bailliesmills road and the roads into the Estate. The generators kicked off and the heating in the barn was turned on – we then accessed whether there was any immediate damage anywhere that would affect the day running smoothly – the main casualties were some trees and Rhododendrons (some hundreds of years old which we will replant and hope they survive) and the lean-to roof opposite the stables which came down in the night – shearing cast iron supports and beautiful old brackets which couldn't take the amount of snow that had fallen…
I texted the bride and groom and spoke to the father of the bride just before 9am to let them know not to worry as far as we were concerned the party would go on! Next job – the boys cleared the courtyards of as much snow as possible (mini tractors and diggers to work) and Gavin got up on the roof of the barn to clear the internal gutters as when that amount of snow starts to melt it would mean a lot of water – better to have them cleared beforehand. I meanwhile spoke to bus companies and bands, caterers and bar staff to let them know everything was still on track, but to be warned we had had an awful lot of snow!
By 10am we were back on track and started viewings, with some couples having made it over from England for the weekend – not much of the gardens to see though I am afraid. Huge apologies to those early morning viewings we postponed – we had to put the wedding that day top of the priority list!
Thankfully the huge majority of the wedding guests made it over – and when the bride and groom and their guests arrived at 3:30pm I think they thought they were arriving into a winter wonderland – definitely a wedding venue with a difference!
The bus did go off road a little, so shovels to the ready to get him out – but the forwarding thinking ushers had all equipped themselves with wellie boots – so were able to lift guests down and into the warmth of the barn where Guinness and champagne was served by Janes Kitchen.
Given that the lake was virtually inaccessible, the greenhouse was dark, and that the lean-to had collapsed under the weight of the snow, for the first time in 5 and a half years we opened up the drawing room of the main house to Debs and Philip for photos – and treated them to a glass of bubbly.
We loved the snow ball fight on the front lawn (as did our daughter who thought this was just the best!).
I think it is fair to say that there were some concerns from the family as to whether Larchfield Barn would be warm enough – but as I personally get so cold so quickly, the heating is now over specified so barn was toasty warm. It is just not always on for all the viewings as is run on a generator that eats fuel!
Talking of generators – we realised that there was still no power for Rose Cottage where the bride and groom were to be staying so quickly rigged up our portable generator to give them electricity and more importantly heat.
- Philip and Brian for coming in on their day off and who cleared the roads, the courtyards, the roofs and the paths
- Alan our lovely electrician who rigged up a generator for Rose Cottage and a temporary fix for our courtyard lights
- Janes Kitchen who also battled very bad snow in Broughshane, but made it here on time with all their staff, despite the clutch on the 4 x 4 going on Saturday morning
- Amy the photographer (Retrosight Photography) who I think it is fair to say was more than happy with the alternative options for photos (and supplied the photos in this post)
- Balmoral Bar who ran the bar
- Jukebox Jurors who confirmed they would be here and were
- Robert the Larchfield Manager on the night
- The ushers who had all brought wellie boots just in case…
We know that it will certainly be a wedding that is remembered by all – just glad that (nearly) everyone made it and Debs and Philip had such a good wedding reception at Larchfield Estate. They are now jetting off to warmer climates for an amazing honeymoon…