Charlotte and Andrew Foster are the owners of the beautiful Gardens at Polehanger – a new dry hire outdoor venue in Bedfordshire, launching from Summer 2021. Andrew worked in IT in London for nearly 20 years and has now taken over running the family farm in Bedfordshire. Charlotte worked in the law for 12 years, before taking time out to raise gorgeous twins, Henry and Esme. She is now keen to get back to work and is excited to launch the Gardens at Polehanger as a fabulous outdoor venue. We talk to them about their vision and their plans for the future.
What makes an ex-lawyer and IT consultant want to move into the Wedding venue business?
Polehanger Farm has been in the family since 1942, when it was purchased by Andrew’s grandfather. Andrew grew up on the farm and we held our wedding reception in the garden in 2007. Since then we have dreamt of diversifying the farm into a wedding and events business. We both commuted into London for years and really enjoyed the challenge of our jobs, but starting a family wasn’t an easy journey for us, and when our twins arrived, we were lucky enough that I was able to take time out to stay at home with them. In the meantime, Andrew slowly took over the running of the family farm from his parents and is now thoroughly enjoying the outdoor life. Now that the children are in school full time (pandemic permitting), I am thrilled to be able to get involved with exploring ways to diversify at the farm, and opening it up to weddings seems like the most natural thing to do.
The stunning gardens are hidden away from the working farm, which offers uninterrupted countryside views and a peaceful location for couples to create their special day. The Gardens are simply stunning and, as a dry hire event, there is plenty of scope for couples and wedding professionals to make the space their own. No two weddings will be the same. We appreciate that we don’t have events experience (although we do love a party and have been to A LOT of weddings!), therefore we are working with a local event manager – Chloe at White Button Weddings, who is incredibly experienced in outdoor/dry hire weddings to oversee the weddings and work with couples to bring together a spectacular day. We did not have an events manager on our own wedding day, and, with hindsight, we think it would have made the day run a lot more smoothly.
Who is your venue for?
We are open to anyone who wants to be able to use our outdoor space to put together their day on their terms. We give them the land and a space to stay on the night of their event, and the rest is up to them. We are a blank canvas (albeit it in a beautiful setting) and couples have free rein to bring in their own suppliers and create their dream venue. We had a marquee and a sit-down meal for our wedding, but it now seems such a long time ago and things have changed so much. A quick browse through wedding pages on Instagram makes us want to do it all again.
What are you most excited about for your new venture?
We are excited to see what couples will put together at the venue. We are also putting together some styled shoots, so we are keen to work with stylists to see what they make of the space. There is room for more diversification at the farm, and we hope to obtain planning permission in the near future to put in some luxury pods, so that more guests can stay on the farm on the night of the wedding and beyond. (Bedfordshire is a great place for a short break).
We are also old romantics and we are excited to work with couples to bring together friends and family to enjoy fabulous food and drink and celebrate LOVE!
We are just in the early stages of this wonderful journey and have a few bookings for next year. We also have some beautiful grade II listed barns on site, which are redundant and in need of renovation. We would love to be able to develop those in the future and offer them as part of our wedding venue. In the meantime, we’re just going to enjoy the opportunity to allow couples to put together their special day in our beautiful gardens.