When Neale’s busy charging camera batteries, checking through kit and polishing lenses on the morning of a wedding, I’ll often find myself asking ‘so, where are you today?’ and when I find out he’s heading over to photograph a wedding at Stoke Place, I know he’ll have a great day.
Why? Well firstly, as it’s a fabulous venue which has always, for us, attracted a wonderful set of clients. But secondly as there’s a fantastic team working tirelessly behind the scenes at Stoke Place weddings who always make sure they look after the suppliers at a wedding with the same attention and level of service as they do the guests. Might sound silly, but being offered a glass of water having been photographing in the mid-afternoon heat for several hours is something that will stay with a photographer!
This excellent team is led by the very talented Michelle Mehmi, who today is the focus of our latest ‘Spotlight Series’, talking about her role as Wedding Manager and why she believes couples choose to hold their wedding celebrations at this unique boutique hotel.
How long have you been in your current role at Stoke Place?
I’ve been at Stoke Place for almost 2 years and it really is a great place to work with a talented and intimate team that all love working here – it’s a passion and enjoyment that I believe comes across to our couples as well. Add that to the fact it’s an absolutely gorgeous venue set in stunning grounds and getting up for work is never hard!
What did you do prior to working in this role?
I started off in in-house corporate events, but I love weddings – I’ll never go back!
Do you have a most memorable moment of a wedding at Stoke Place?
The end of every wedding, in a bittersweet way! It’s lovely to see everything pull together and go home knowing you were part of that day – some couples really do become part of the Stoke Place family and its lovely to see them come back for anniversaries, birthdays and even Christenings at the hotel. One of my early weddings though had a surprise celeb appearance of a X-factor contestant for their guests – it was intended as tongue-in-cheek by the bride and the guests absolutely loved it! It really started off their evening party.
Why do you think couples choose Stoke Place as their wedding venue?
I think the flexibility we allow them to build up their own day and not being tied into set packages. We are also a unique boutique hotel; English Country House but quirky and superbly stylish. We’re also incredibly proud of the fabulous menus designed by our 3AA Rosette and Michelin Recommended Restaurant.
What’s your favourite wedding colour theme chosen by couples at Stoke Place?
The Ballroom is true blank canvas which means every wedding here is unique and I have seen some absolutely stunning weddings. It doesn’t take much though to dress the room and I do love a classical wedding of creams, whites and greens. I love when people make use of the beams also, we recently had a wedding suspend their centrepieces from the beams above each table – it was mesmerising.
Which three dishes would you choose if you had your wedding breakfast at Stoke Place?
Can I pick 3 desserts??!!
OK, I would go for our Butternut, Fine Bean and Feta Salad with a Balsamic Dressing for starters, followed by one of our Lamb main courses, or possible Slow Cooked Belly of Pork, Creamed Potato, Sautéed Leeks, Calvados Cream. Then for dessert, most definitely our Apple Tart with Apple Pie Ice Cream. We also offer 4 and 5 course menu options and I think adding a sorbet course is perfect for the summer – I would chose raspberry or lemongrass.
And finally, what would be your top 3 tips for any couple looking to plan a Stoke Place wedding?
Making a dedicated email address is a great tip as it allows you to be organised right from the start. Trust the experts and most importantly, try to keep it as stress free as possible! Listening to the advice and suggestions of experienced wedding suppliers is a worthwhile tip too, and you’ll find some more advice on our Stoke Place website too.
For more information on Stoke Place weddings, please visit www.stokeplace.co.uk and if you’d like to speak to Neale about photography for your wedding celebrations, we’d be delighted to hear from you via the Contact form on the main menu.