Providence Farm Hall
Emma McKenzie- Carter, Owner/ Manager - 01/12/2021
We don’t know EVERYTHING but we certainly have seen a lot!
Welcome to our first ever blog. We look forward to letting you in on some of the biggest things we have learnt whilst running a wedding venue during bushfires and pandemics. We hope our journey can help you plan your dream wedding or even inspire you to kick start your own business. My wife Tegan and I have been running the Providence Farm Hall for the past three years, two of which we were living in Brisbane (an hour and a half drive away), whilst working our “day jobs.” In the past twelve months, during the middle of the pandemic we made the decision to move our lives and commit to this business full time. Looking back at that decision now it seems reckless. Neither of us had experience in running a business let alone anything to do with the wedding industry. We’d planned our own wedding, how hard could it be? I’m sure we have some of our wonderful Brides and Grooms who booked years ago and had to reschedule (sometimes up to three times), reading this and you really have been on this journey with us. You are the ones that had my Dad (farmer Greg ) show you around in his gumboots and short shorts and my Mum (Wendy) sending you invoices. They are the reason we were able to get this business off the ground and we will forever be grateful for them. But I’m guessing you have also seen a lot of changes over the years in the way we run and operate our business. When we first started out we certainly had a lot of trust or maybe we were just naïve which led to “the paddock is on fire”, “there’s no fixing that, you’ll need a new one” and “biohazards the morning of a funeral” which are all stories we will get to in future blogs. We like to think we have learnt our lessons hence our slightly more structured approach to events on our property but I’m almost certain we have many more lessons to learn along the way.
We scrimped and saved for years before we were able to commit to this venture and we weren’t going to let a silly pandemic get in our way but it has been terrifying to say the least to go through the pandemic in an industry that has had so many strict and quick rule changes and is still going through changes as I write. My number one piece of advice for anyone planning an event, whether it be a wedding or a birthday party is, HAVE A BACK UP PLAN!! We all know about having a rain contingency plan but nobody ever thinks it will rain on their wedding day. But I’m here to tell you if you think it won’t.. It will!
We’ve seen guests forced to sit in the rain during ceremonies, outdoor weddings that refuse to come inside, helicopters struggling to land in the fog and people canceling weddings because of restriction changes. Before moving into the wedding industry, one of my many day jobs was being a fairy. I worked for one of the best children’s entertainment companies in QLD for six years. I would often do up to six parties a weekend and not once in those six years did I ever have a party cancel due to weather. The very first question I would ask my clients was “do you have a rain contingency plan?” If they didn’t , we made one then and there because trust me a fairy melting in the rain with 30 odd unruly kids isn’t a good look and a melting bride with a hundred odd guests is not all that different.
We often have clients that are adamant that they won’t be using the indoor space but would you believe that 99.9% of the time, they do. Even in the most beautiful weather we have found after the sun goes down guests are looking to settle into a more intimate setting that is protected from the cool night air. Don’t get me wrong people still enjoy popping outside to sit around the fire or to have a sneaky cigarette but the main party is always inside. If you are planning a wedding on a mountain you should always remember the cooler climate and that it is often 5-10 degrees colder here than on the coast, even on the warmest days we have a sneaky breeze.
The modern day back up plan is undoubtedly the hardest. A rainy day plan is easy in comparison to a pandemic plan. How do you whittle your 120 person wedding down to 10 people in less than 2 weeks? Or in some cases less than 24 hours! Or what do you do if Grandma can’t get across the border? How do you bring your wedding forward after the government announces new restrictions starting at 4pm? I don’t have all the answers to these questions, but I can help you to make the decisions easier. First of all, like a fire emergency plan, have a go bag. Except instead of a bag, have your people. Have your people that know your plan. That can and will make decisions for you because when the rug is pulled from underneath you on your wedding day you are likely to not have the emotional capacity to make those decisions on your own. Ask yourself these questions before your day. What really matters? Is it about the decorations and the food or is it about you and the person you are committing the rest of your life to? Of course you want all of your loved ones around you but is it worth the stress of planning your wedding possibly three times over only to elope anyway? Check in with your venue, your celebrant, caterers, photographers and entertainment. They’ve been here. Rescheduling is now their specialty but our calendars are filling up, our products are changing along with our prices. We’ve all been burnt and are having to make up for lost time and lost money. For every reschedule we lose a booking of a wedding that may have forged ahead. We all sympathise with having to change plans on one of the most important days of your life and absolutely want to help you as much as we can but remember this is our livelihoods we have all climbed hurdles to get where we are. I hate to quote High School Musical (or do I?) but remember “we are all in this together”.