Supplier case studies

Gants Mill - green wedding venue

Gants Mill - green wedding venue

Name: Greg Beedle
Location: Bruton, Somerset

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business
We are a family run 50 acre sheep farm with a wonderful working watermill. The history of the Mill goes back to before the Conquest, and we still use it to grind barley for our sheep and show to visitors. We have also been producing hydro electricity since 2004 - feeding clean energy straight into the National Grid.

The Mill has been in my wife's family for years. We moved here last year with our children to try and keep the place going for another generation. The wedding venue business was a natural choice, as we can make an income which complements existing activities and can help maintain the wonderful Mill.

We now have a licence to hold civil ceremonies on site. We only operate in the summer months, with our own marquee as the main venue for receptions and parties. We felt sure it would work, as we had our own wedding reception in a marquee in the lovely gardens here (some years ago!)

What or who inspires you?
My in-laws, Brian and Alison. I have found they are the best people to have on your side when starting a new business. They are passionate about preserving both the landscape and the wonderful buildings here. Alison is a horticultural wizard, who has created a stunning garden enjoyed by many people over the years. She employs many sustainable gardening principles, like propagating plants and using our own compost.

Brian has the ingenuity and practical engineering skills needed by farmers these days. He is constantly coming up with ways to solve difficult problems using materials other people would have discarded.

Gants Mill - green wedding venue

What do you enjoy most about running your business?
I gave up a well paid career in industry to take on this challenge - and I am still enjoying it immensely. I am becoming healthier by the day, by working outside. Also I get to meet couples at a very happy time in their lives. Finally, and best of all, I am my own boss.

What is the most challenging aspect?
Dealing with some parts of the local authorities and managing the large amount of regulation small businesses have to cope with has been a challenge. We have overcome all obstacles so far by being professional and persistent, and asking for help from our local community from time to time.

What do you feel you bring to an ethical wedding?
This is a magical place. Most visitors quickly fall in love with the beautiful surroundings, but many also come to share our family's enthusiasm for ensuring the Mill remains sustainable. Our carbon footprint is virtually non-existent, especially when you consider we generate enough renewable electricity in a year to power an average 8 households.

We only do one wedding at a time, so wedding parties get an exclusive venue with room to breathe and roam. Our approach is relaxed and informal, to maximise the amount of choice and thus make each event individual to the couple.

How do you see the wedding industry changing over the next five years (if at all)?
Many people will look for venues that allow them more freedom, and will start to move away from the one size fits all package approach to weddings.

As the general economic situation looks to worsen for a time, couples will increasingly demand value for money.

Existing trends such as concern for food miles and local organic produce will only strengthen with time.

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