The Matara Centre wedding venue is so much more than just another venue
It’s time for another wedding venue feature and this time the spotlight is on the Matara Centre. A truly unique Cotswold Wedding Venue in Gloucestershire. I caught up with Susan, Matara’s Event and Wedding Planner and asked those important questions that may just help you decide if this is the wedding venue you’ve been searching for.
Hi Susan, so how did you first get involved with weddings?
Geoffrey, the owner, bought the house as his personal residence years ago and he lived here with his wife June. He worked in organisational change for years travelling the world and earning a lot of money. June sadly was diagnosed with terminal cancer so Geoffrey built the Matara Centre in the grounds of the house so he could fly his clients to him and he didn’t have to leave June. Sadly June passed away and it wasn’t until about 15 yrs ago when their daughter wanted to get married and asked to use the space that he realised it could be used in such a way, as a place of celebration. I became the wedding planner here about two years later. I was here for about four years until I left to be an events director elsewhere. I was away for 9 years until I had a call from Geoffrey saying he wanted to retire and would I come back to run Matara. So in total I’ve been an event and wedding planner for 19 years.
Tell me about one of the most memorable weddings at Matara.
That’s tricky to answer! We did an OK magazine wedding, an actress, Tina Hobley, from TV show Holby City. There were celebrity guests, they were all such lovely people. It was a bit challenging working with a magazine as they have their own agenda but the article they produced was really nice. Some of the most memorable weddings have been the small, low-key days, they’re so intimate.
How far out should a couple pay a deposit to secure your venue for their wedding day?
Well we take a 50% deposit at the time of booking and the rest is due 30 days before. We do have people booking two or three years in advance and in these cases the initial booking deposit is just 25%. We have a huge amount of mid-week weddings. People want to make it more than just the one day and so the house gets booked for three or four days and the families then stay here. So the mid-weeks with the accommodation gets booked up probably a year in advance, saying that, there are some Saturdays without the accommodation still available for 2016.
What is included when a couple books your venue for their wedding?
If they book the venue they get a blank canvass. The Venue is theirs from 9am til midnight and they can create what they want. We never say to couples ‘this is how you need to do it’ and in fact it is much more fun for them and us if each wedding is unique. If they wanted to have a festival on site we’d be more than happy to do that, the more different the better. With my background I’m more than happy to take the lead if the couple’s wish me to, I’ve had to do all sorts of crazy and fun stuff like recreate a jungle! Their imagination is the limit really. A great website we recommend to couples planning is www.projectwedding.com
Also, Luke the chef has worked with me for 9 years and he loves getting creative with the food. He’s recently created a signature dessert for the Matara called the Matara Heart. We had great fun testing it on couples who have booked their wedding here at our food tasting party which takes place twice a year.
Food tasting Party! Sounds fun, what’s that about?
We like to hold a party twice a year and invite all the couples getting married here to come and try out our food. They arrive as a guest and have canapes and champagne, they’re then called through to dinner. There’s a seating plan like at a wedding and they sit with other the couples and get served 6 starters, 6 mains and 6 desserts as sharing platters. It’s great inspiration for their day.
How many guest can you accommodate?
Up to 150 for a wedding on site, sleeping 26.
What’s one interesting fact about Matara?
I’d say our tree dedication. For every single couple that marry here a tree is planted and dedicated to them. On their wedding day the tree is already planted to ensure it survives and we have some extra soil and a can of water for the bride and groom to dedicate their tree and become part of the 26 acres here. Lots come back to visit their tree. It’s really something special.
What do you have planned for the future?
Geoffery has been wanting to create a well being centre, a place where people can come and retreat. So we’re building a Palm house in a clearing at the bottom of the woods. There’s a building attached which will be used as a café and a yoga retreat. There’s a veg patch there also which we’re hoping will supply the Café as well. It’s just somewhere people can come and relax and unwind. We’ve already got someone who’s booked the space for a 5 day retreat.
Finally, what makes a wedding at Matara unique?
There are a few things that make us stand out. I’ve mentioned the tree dedications. We’re also a social enterprise, meaning at the end of the year when we look at our profits 50% goes direct to charities. The other 50% goes into developing the site. We’re sustainable and we contribute back to the community. That’s really important to us.
Thinking of having the Matara Centre as your wedding venue? If you like the look of these photos then please get in touch with Jonny – I’d love to hear more about you, your wedding day plans and what you want from your Matara Centre wedding photographer.