Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Wedding Eve Party

In a world where international travel is commonplace and more and more of us are choosing to live and work abroad, a wedding is one of the few times that families and friends are able to come together. Despite the warm lure of Dubai or the stunning Skylines of Singapore, many of our brides and grooms love to return to the Yorkshire homelands to tie the knot.

A recent wedding at Holdsworth House saw the bride and groom, who live and work in the far east, choosing to marry in their native UK surrounded by their family and friends. What better way then than to extend the celebrations for the closest few than with a Holdsworth House Wedding Eve Party.

Relatives arriving into the UK or driving from the other end of the country often come a few days prior to the big day; it's uncommon for such guests to simply rock up at the wedding venue just as you're heading down the aisle! As a result Holdsworth House has seen a growth in couples and families celebrating the night before the 'main event' as a way of welcoming and catching up with those long-distance relatives. Many say it's a great way to settle the nerves and put everyone in the party mood.

The private dining rooms at Holdsworth House have served as the best location for such events and chef has created a selection of sharing dishes on the Host A Roast menu, in effect to give families a fabulous home from home roast dinner or hearty homemade pie to delve into.

The big day can whizz by fast, so if you've got a bit of catching up to do, host a Wedding Eve Party to thank your guests for coming and kick the celebrations off in style.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Booking direct V booking via another hotel booking website

There are so many hotel booking websites and comparison sites now that instead of helping guests find an easy route to reserving a hotel room, many are simply comparing comparison sites!

The internet has paved the way for lots of new 'hotel booking agents' to spring up, so how does it work?

1) Some agents buy hotel stock
Some agents agree an allocation of rooms each night with the hotel. That means that when you book, your room is guaranteed - but they can't allocate you a specific room e.g. if you love room 20 for its views or because it has wheelchair access, agents can't automatically allocate you this. It has to be done within the hotel's system.

2) Some agents simply agree a price but no allocation
Some agents will agree a price but when you book they will send the request to the hotel - this way you can't guarantee a room and run the risk of being booked out, or later finding out your 'booking' is not actually a booking at all if there are no rooms available! You may not receive a confirmation. Indeed the hotel may not receive your booking request at all from the agent leaving everyone fuming!

3) Best Available Rate
Some agents use the hotel's Best Available Rate, this is a rate that fluctuates daily, set by the hotel. The agent simply pulls the data through to their website, making it the same as booking direct. The hotel pays the agent for the privilege of promoting the room. The customer assumes the booking has been made there and then but there are lots of things going on in the background to ensure the booking is in the hotel's system. The confirmation comes from the booking agent. Special requests are noted but can't be guaranteed or discussed through an online agent - you'd need to ring the hotel direct.

4) Best Available Rate +
Some agents take the hotel's daily rate (through another 3rd party) and add their own cut on top, meaning the customer loses out by paying more. You might not have heard of the booking website, know where they are based (they may be outside the UK) or who indeed you've paid money to. They might say things like 'best price' or 'last room' when in fact both of these statements could be untrue. The problem is the lack of regulation of such websites.

5) Wholesale Prices
Some travel agents buy room stock on a group booking basis for specific dates and a lot of rooms at a reduced rate. They then charge the customer what they like for these rooms. They usually package them up e.g. theatre breaks, coach tours.

6) Wholesale Prices +
Some agents take wholesale prices and add their own mark up - charging whatever they want. Many of these are based outside of the UK and don't list the correct hotel information. Rates are often converted from alternative currencies and so fluctuate. They sometimes don't include breakfast... Are you really sure what you're buying?

In Summary
If you want a hotel room - cut through the confusion and book direct. Here's the benefit of booking direct with Holdsworth House:
  • Avoid any confusion over who has the best rate - we always have the best rate direct
  • Ensure your booking is in the hotel's system
  • Receive a confirmation from the hotel
  • Have more flexible booking and cancellation terms
  • Have a full cooked breakfast, parking, wifi and VAT included in the room price
  • Know who you have paid and who has got your money!
  • Ensure any special requests or add ons e.g. specific rooms, Champagne and chocolates in the room etc are dealt with.
This isn't just a ploy by hotels to get more bookings - the simple fact is that the more people and companies are involved in the one booking transaction, the more can go wrong and each party wants a slice of the what the customer ends up paying!

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Real Last Tango in Halifax Wedding!

You might think you are a fan of the BBC's Last Tango in Halifax, but you might not have much on a couple that were recently married at Holdsworth House Hotel in Halifax.

The BAFTA winning TV show was filmed at Holdsworth House (series 2) and featured as the venue of Caroline and Kate's romantic weekend break, Celia's hen party and Alan and Celia's wedding (although some indoor scenes were also filmed elsewhere).

One couple whose real life backstory remarkably follows that of Alan and Celia's is Maxine and Roland who were married at Holdsworth House in August 2014. The new Mr & Mrs Tyler were married in The Gazebo, in the grounds of Holdsworth House Hotel looking on to the beautiful facade of the hotel, which featured prominently in the Last Tango series. 


In a story that mirrors Alan and Celia's so closely, it was however Maxine and Roland who have lived the real life tale for the last 30 years. The couple were young sweethearts who both went their separate ways and married separately. Years later they were reunited via the Internet having, unknowingly, lived close by to each other for so long.

In a similar twist to the BBC shows' characters, Maxine and Roland (pictured left with their families) decided not to tell anyone they were getting married, and in fact Maxine chose not to get an engagement ring, joking now that she 'wants a sports car like Celia'! The only difference in the stories is that the couple's children from previous marriages actually attended the marriage ceremony, making it a wonderful family affair.

Maxine said “We were looking for a small wedding venue where we could slip away and get married. We were avid fans of Last Tango in Halifax so as soon as we saw that it was filmed at Holdsworth House I knew it was the place for us. As it’s such a beautiful venue I didn’t think they’d have space for us but when I spoke to Claire the wedding coordinator and she said they could fit us in, I just knew it was fate.

“Our story is exactly the same as Alan and Celia’s, we have both been married before and have lived relatively close by for so long. We got back in touch via the Internet, just like Alan and Celia and, as it turns out, Roland has been driving past my house for years not knowing that I live there. We didn’t tell anyone we were getting married” Maxine added jokingly, “In fact we were thinking of announcing our marriage via text a bit like Alan and Celia too!"

Kind thanks go to Maxine and Roland for allowing us to tell their story. The team wishes them both much happiness for the future.

Pictures courtesy of Maxine and Roland Tyler, official Last Tango photographer's Kyte Photography and Red Production Company

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Thirty seven years and counting...

Rose Kendell
Apparently the average person changes jobs eleven times during his or her career* so Holdsworth House's kitchen porter, Rosemary Kendell, is definitely an exception as she clocks up 37 years' work at the four star hotel.

In fact Rose began work at the hotel aged sweet sixteen when Holdsworth House (or the Cavalier Country Club as it was known then) was owned by the late Freddie and Rita Pearson. Our Belfast beauty travelled to England aged just fifteen and followed in her mum's footsteps to work at the hotel; Rose's mum Maureen McEvoy also worked as Holdsworth House's kitchen porter! Working to begin with on weekends and evenings Rose finally took over from her mum after 27 years in the job.

Now with four sons and one daughter Rose has fond memories as she continues her long service at Holdsworth House:

"I remember Rita and Freddie Pearson (who bought the hotel in 1953), they were lovely people. After the birth of my son I brought him in to the hotel and Rita and Freddie gave him a new blanket, they were always asking after the children. Then when I had my daughter I worked right up until the day she was born - in fact I had to call in sick the morning I had Laura."
Rita Pearson
Today Holdsworth House is in the safe hands of Rita and Freddie's children, Gail and Kim.

Rose continues; "It's lovely to see the hotel still thriving. We have bigger events more frequently. I've seen the hotel grow and develop with the bedroom extension and bar. Its a lovely team and still a great family to work for."

Rose is fondly known for her gorgeous Irish Gaelic twang, deep loyalty to the hotel and wonderful friendship she offers everyone around her. We all send Rose the very best wishes as she celebrates her long career at Holdsworth House.

*Source About.com 

Monday, 7 July 2014

10 reasons to hold your wedding at Holdsworth House

The wedding dress aside, choosing your venue might be one of the hardest wedding decisions you make. You might feel you're handing control of your day to a bunch of strangers - how well are they going to perform and live up to your expectations? You need to be confident you've made the best decision.

As one of Yorkshire's most successful wedding venues, here are the top ten reasons brides tell us they choose Holdsworth House:

1) It's somewhere so flexible

"Holdsworth, unlike a lot of places, caters for whatever you want" 30 May 2014

Your wedding day should be completely unique. We don't shoehorn couples into packages that don't suit them. Holdsworth House wedding packages are built from experience, from the average number of guests and using timings that we know work well for guests, registrars and for you to get the most out of your day. But if the package doesn't fit you, we'll tailor one that does.

Being an independent hotel means we can chop and change things to suit you more readily. If you've got some wild and crazy ideas - great, we will help you realise them. If you want a small, intimate celebration - wonderful, it will be very romantic.

You are the customer and you retain control. We can help and advise you at every step of the way. We don't know any other venue offering the same flexibility.

Image-I-Nation Photography
2) Your friends and family will thank you
“My son’s wedding was held at the hotel. The entire stay from beginning to end went without a fault or hitch and the staff could not have been more helpful and friendly." September 2013
Most of our wedding business comes from referrals: couples who feel the urge to share their happy wedding with the world. Holdsworth House is not an off-the-shelf hotel, but if you want somewhere that will stand out and stay with your guests for years to come, this is it.

It's true that many of our Tripadvisor reviews are from brides and grooms, but we also get a heap of comments from guests that celebrate with the wedding party. In a year we welcome around 20,000 wedding guests; you should come in and read our comment book from those who are checking out the morning after the night before. It makes our hearts sing.

John Hope Photography
3) Holdsworth House is a photographer's dream

"The house and grounds are stunning, we couldn't have chosen a more beautiful location" 28 May 2014

Knowing good suppliers is part of what we do. We don't earn commission from any wedding supplier, but we will only recommend companies that we know have delivered great results in the past. But when a supplier recommends us back, that's a lovely compliment.

Many photographers for example love shooting weddings here. They love the grounds, the lighting, the quirkiness and character of the building that they can pick out in pictures. Holdsworth House offers photographers something different from bog standard wedding portraits and they can use our hotel like a playground to capture the character of each bride and groom perfectly.

We're used to working with a whole range of wedding companies - florists, cake makers, venue dressers - if they're from Yorkshire, we've probably worked with them! All this experience means we can help them to help you, we see your other suppliers as our customers too so we will make sure they have everything they need to get their job done.

4) Tripadvisor winners again and again

"I've never written a review on Tripadvisor but after one of my best friend's lovely wedding at Holdsworth House, I thought I'd have a go! Just really want to say how great all the staff were and it was such a special day. This is a really beautiful place to stay, I wish we'd had longer than just one night!" April 2014

Everyone knows what Tripadvisor is about. As hoteliers we don't hide from it or pretend it's not there. In fact we embrace all feedback, which is why Holdsworth House has won the Certificate of Excellence for the last four years running.

We respond to all feedback, but most importantly ensure we do everything possible to resolve any issue as it happens, before a guest leaves.  So you can rest assured that things don't get brushed under the carpet nor corners cut - the good thing about Tripadvisor is that there is no place for a venue to hide!

5) Fabulous food
"The food was to die for (totally recommend the pork rillette and Apple crumble)" 7 April 2014
The AA's description for 2 AA Rosettes means: 'Excellent restaurants that aim for and achieve higher standards and better consistency. A greater precision is apparent in the cooking, and there will be obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients'.

Holdsworth House has won two AA rosettes every year for the last 15 years. Food is sourced locally and beef is hung on site for 28 days to give extra maturity and tenderness. Chef's kitchen is located next to the main function room so food is served hot and fresh.

A fresh banqueting service is nothing to be sniffed at. It means, unlike some venues, meals are prepared fresh without freezing and reheating so that the taste packs a punch and your guests get a restaurant quality meal. Ours is quite the envy of a lot of venue kitchens.

6) 50 years' experience

"All the team were superb but a special thank you to Matthew, Phil and our waitress - she has had lots of practice tucking in brides!!!!" 5 January 2014

We get lots of strange and wonderful requests. That's what makes a day in the life of Holdsworth House so interesting. Whatever particular needs and desire you have to make your wedding special, we will pull out the stops to help.

In 2013 we celebrated 50 years as an independent hotel. From a private member's socialising den in the 1960s to one of Yorkshire's top wedding venues - 50 years provides a wealth of experience and there's almost nothing our walls have not witnessed!

Holdsworth House co-owner Gail
and Jamie Oliver
7) A team that cares

"I was first introduced to Holdsworth House by Sally Wainwright (writer of Last Tango in Halifax & Happy Valley), who suggested it as one of the locations for Alan & Celia's wedding in LTiH series two. Holdsworth House is a beautiful building, and it did eventually form part of our wedding sequence. From my initial contact with owner Gail Moss I was welcomed with open arms, a welcome that was extended to all the cast and crew whilst filming took place." Andy Morgan, Location Manager, June 2014

50 years after buying Holdsworth House, the same family still owns the hotel.

Being an independent hotel means our team takes things personally; perhaps that's why we go above and beyond many other venues. Personal pride is very important and is engrained within the culture from the owners and management team to everyone working behind the scenes.

It's this personal touch that continues to win us business. The team is selected for special projects, including TV and film, because we have a reputation of being able to deliver. We recently welcomed the cast and crew of Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax, and Jamie Oliver chose Holdsworth House to film Jamie's Great Britain. It's a reputation that goes back fifty years, when The Beatles stayed here to escape the crowds on their British tour.

Courtesy of
Mr & Mrs Costello
8) It's a stunning year round setting

"My wife and I got married at this beautiful and charming hotel on 28th December 2013 and have nothing but rave recommendations for every aspect of our special day." 3 January 2014

Spring and summer weddings are always popular. The gardens burst to life and the courtyards are full of birdsong. Many brides and grooms now consider a winter wedding equally as magical; a sprinkling of frost or snow makes Holdsworth House look spectacular.

There is so much to see at Holdsworth House. If you're looking for a venue packed to the rafters with character, history and charm, look no further. We don't pretend to be contemporary and corporate, we like to offer all of life's luxuries in a more interesting and engaging way.

9) Indoors or out, take your pick

"We married at Holdsworth House yesterday, 8th March 2014 and all I can say is that it was amazing. We had a perfect day. The hotel is fabulous, the food is gorgeous and the staff are absolutely amazing. If you want to tie the knot Holdsworth is the place to do it."

There aren't too many places in Yorkshire where you can be married outdoors. There are a number of rules in place by the registrars that venues must abide by for legal marriages to take place. We've done our homework and our Courtyard weddings are fully licensed and increasingly popular.

10) Only one wedding per day

"I got married here in June 2013. I will remember this day always and for all the right reasons! The staff here are fabulous, much more than just professional and helpful, they are really friendly too and this made a huge difference to me on my big day!"

By only allowing one wedding per day we can dedicate our full attention to you.  Simples x

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"Smallest Wedding Venue in the UK"

According to statistics the average number of guests attending weddings (or being invited) fell in 20013 from 103 to 94. In our experience couples refuse to compromise on quality and are choosing instead to restrict their guest list numbers in order to bring their dream wedding day within budget.

A recent wedding at Holdsworth House however broke with tradition when the couple searched Google for "the smallest wedding venue in the UK". Despite Holdsworth House comfortably catering for up to 120 guests, our wedding couple chose to tie the knot in our historic Gazebo, which is perfect for marriages with up to 8 guests and we understand is officially the smallest licensed wedding venue in the UK. 

This beautiful stone building in one corner of the Parterre Garden might have once been a summer house or a former oratory, there's even suggestion of a secret tunnel from the manor house to the Gazebo, although none has ever been discovered! Inside is an original fireplace and mullioned windows on three sides giving views over the gardens and neighbouring paddocks. The ceiling is festooned with white muslin and the walls are stencilled with a design taken from original, historic drawings - altogether making a very pretty and romantic picture.

The Gazebo's well worn stone steps are edged with colourful planting and are where Jamie Oliver cooked a very tasty looking lamb shank for his Jamie's Great Britain series.

Our happy couple brought an international flavour to Yorkshire on Thursday 22nd May 2014; the groom was from Transylvania and the beautiful bride from Hungary. The happy couple live in London and have no historical connection with Yorkshire but found our hidden gem through the powers of Google.

With two registrars, the bride, groom and six guests the little Gazebo made a wonderful, cosy and intimate setting to exchange vows. The Yorkshire theme went down a storm with our jet setters too; canapes of smoked salmon, mini shepherd's pies with mustard and bite sized Yorkshire puddings preceded a small wedding breakfast set out in the Ayrton private dining room where a fabulous loin of Yorkshire pork was cooked with crispy crackling to delighted guests.

True to our word, only one wedding was allowed at the hotel that evening: whether it's eight or 88 guests the bridal party gets VIP treatment every single time.

The attention to detail was clearly welcomed by the new Mr & Mrs, who tweeted "Had the best time of our lives the staff was absolutely outstanding! Special thanks to Tracy, Gale & everyone involved."

Here are some of their Instagram pictures:

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sally Wainwright's Happy Valley showcases Yorkshire

Picture: The Independent
Following the utterly brilliant Last Tango in Halifax, the latest TV drama written by Sally Wainwright hit the screen last night on the BBC. 'Happy Valley' is a gritty  West Yorkshire-based story set in a pretty village, Hebden Bridge.  Police sergeant Cawood (played by Sarah Lancashire) becomes embroiled in a kidnap plot involving the same man who drove her daughter to suicide years earlier. Taking in the darker side of life, including modern-day drugs culture, Happy Valley lacks the comedy of Wainwright's Last Tango in Halifax but is as utterly absorbing, be warned you may not blink for an hour.

Gripping TV story lines have been magnificently acted out in this drama, once again by lead actor Sarah Lancashire whose powerful deliveries leave us craving for next week's episode. At Holdsworth House we were lucky to accommodate Lancashire and other Happy Valley actors throughout filming in Hebden Bridge and nearby villages.

The first episode received good reviews from The Telegraph describing it as 'nail biting', and The Independent said the 'Homegrown, Yorkshire-set drama is better than Fargo'.

In addition to sharing Wainwright's BAFTA wining writing talent with the world, the local business and tourism economy has undoubtedly seen a boost in recent years as her stories are realised by producer Karen Lewis of Red Production Company. Through Last Tango in Halifax the number of enquiries for Holdsworth House has increased, lets hope the businesses of nearby Hebden Bridge see their trade magnified as their surroundings are showcased. Thankfully the wonderful artistic boutiques of Hebden Bridge and iconic Yorkshire scenery offer more escapism on a short break than the ficticious illegal drugs culture featured in the show!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Last Tango Spurs More Mature Weddings

There is little doubt that the brilliant Red Production series of Last Tango in Halifax for the BBC caused a ripple effect in popularising weddings of more mature brides and grooms, says the team at Holdsworth House in Halifax. 

The BAFTA winning BBC One show told the tale of Alan Buttershaw (Derek Jacobi) and Celia Dawson (Anne Reid) who are both widowed and in their 70s. When their grandsons put them on Facebook, they rediscover feelings for one another that are just as intense and beautiful now as they were 60 years ago when they were teenagers.

The series two finale on Christmas Eve showed Alan and Celia finally tying the knot and celebrating their romance with a grand wedding reception. Series writer Sally Wainwright from Halifax was insistent that as many scenes as possible were filmed in locations familiar to her. Wainwright and Red Production’s producer Karen Lewis chose four-star hotel Holdsworth House in Halifax - already a popular wedding venue - as one of the romantic settings.

Since airing, the team at Holdsworth House has seen enquiries for marriages and receptions from more mature couples increase twofold. It is clear that the story of Alan and Celia’s relationship described as ‘a celebration of the uplifting power of love at any age’ has encouraged many mature coupes to take the plunge.

Wedding coordinator Claire Nicholl said, ”We have seen a definite increase in older couples wanting to get married or renew their vows at Holdsworth House since Last Tango in Halifax. We call it the ‘Alan & Celia effect’! Sometimes couples that come to us have been married before, like Alan and Celia, and it is so wonderful to see large families celebrating the happiness of their grandparents or mums and dads together. The TV show was quite true to life focusing very much on family relationships; it was quite dark as well as comical in places since both Alan and Celias families come with baggage. However in the rare occasion there is tension we find that families tend to put any differences aside and the hotel becomes a wonderfully happy place to be”

Nicholl continues, ”We were lucky to be featured in the show. We still get visitors coming in saying ‘We saw it on Last Tango’, but when they realise they too can get married here, the excitement is palpable. We find older couples tend to want a sophisticated, understated wedding celebration. These are people who know what they like and want quality over quantity, good food and relaxed surroundings. ”

Last Tango in Halifax is up for its second year of BAFTA nominations in May 2014, with headline cast members Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker in the running for best supporting actress.

Pictures courtesy of Kyte Photography and Red Production Company

Friday, 4 April 2014

Three Generations Celebrate Together

Karen, Alisha and Margaret pictured in the historic Hall
If there was ever a place that knows how to throw a good party, it's Holdsworth House. For over 50 years the historic manor has been hosting top events and this spring was no different when three family members, who all work at the hotel, chose their place of work  as the place to party.

Margaret Henderson, who has worked part time in the restaurant for 18 years, has recently retired. Margaret's daughter is Karen Porter - a senior housekeeper at the hotel, and Margaret's granddaughter Alisha Jade Porter plays an important role in the restaurant team. But is was the occasion of Margaret's birthday that brought the three generations together for pleasure not work at the hotel. On March 20th Margaret chose to celebrate her birthday in a private dining room. Yet her official retirement party took place on 3rd April when the front office team and other colleagues joined to celebrate 18 impressive years of loyal service to Holdsworth House and the Pearson family who own it.

Some of Margaret's favourite memories during her time at Holdsworth House include TV presenter Gary Lineker visiting and seeing Jamie Oliver and his crew take over the grounds to film one of his popular shows. However it's the regular guests of the hotel and restaurant who are the ones that Margaret says made her job so interesting and enjoyable.

It hasn't all been hotel life for Margaret, as a church warden at her local Holy Nativity, Margaret visited Tanzania in 2008 to look at projects, which the hotel supported. And she's not ready to reach for the knitting needles any time soon, in fact she's going to be as busy as ever as she continues to help at the luncheon club and mums and toddlers group.

Margaret's granddaughter Alisha said, "My grandma will always think of her time at Holdsworth House as being part of a big family. I've certainly inherited the passion for hotel work from her and my mum. My main role is working on the top table of the wedding parties looking after the newlyweds and their families, this is a role my grandma used to do too!"

Congratulations to Margaret and enjoy your retirement - from the team at Holdsworth House x

Friday, 28 February 2014

Same Sex Marriages from 29th March

We were thrilled to hear the news from the Calderdale registrars recently that same sex marriage / gay marriage is being recognised from 2014 onwards.

Equalities Minister, Maria Miller, is vowing to put in place procedures to allow those who are in a civil partnership to convert to marriage by the end of 2014

Same-sex couples who married abroad under foreign law and are currently treated as civil partners will be recognised as being married in England and Wales from March 2014. So if you want a party to celebrate then you know where to come!

Read more about the change in law in The Guardian's article from December 2013 or contact Calderdale Register Office on 01422 288080

Holdsworth House is fully licensed to hold marriages conducted by the registrars, which includes those covered by the new law. Lesbian and gay couples wishing to be the first to marry here need to formally give notice of their intention to marry in the usual way on 13 March.

It's a huge step in the right direction and we can't wait to welcome more couples to our historic grounds for some more historic occasions!

Holdsworth House - featured as Caroline & Kate's 'romantic rendezvous' hotel in the BBC's BAFTA winning Last Tango in Halifax.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

5 reasons to have a Christmas wedding

Think about it, Christmas weddings have so many things going for them; it makes us wonder why so many people choose a wedding in the summer months.

With warming open fires, twinkling frost on the lawns and beautiful winter sun - your wedding photos will be stunning (and great lighting didn't even make it in to our top five!)

Here are some of the best reasons for having a wedding around Christmas time at Holdsworth House.

  1. Christmas decorations are up all around the hotel. Not only do you not need to bother dressing your function room, the entire hotel will be dazzling in festive fanciness. 
  2. Nobody will forget your anniversary. Least of all your betrothed, so make space for your Christmas and anniversary cards.
  3. Everyone will be in a good mood. It's Christmas after all and, unless there's a Scrooge in your family, your dearly beloved will enjoy the excuse to gather together at this special time of year.
  4. Guests are likely to be on holiday from work. This is a bonus so choose any day of the Christmas week to invite your nearest and dearest to the party of the year.
  5. You can be more sure of the weather without pinning your hopes on blisteringly hot sunshine. Think winter shawls, faux fur, multi-coloured wellies and the scent of spicy hot toddies wafting around. 
Cool is officially chic.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

When the Beatles Came to Stay

50 Years Ago This Year

Reminisce with Gail Moss co-owner of Holdsworth House Hotel about the time The Beatles came to stay. Hear Gail talk to Tim Daly of BBC Radio Leeds.

Watch out for the actual restaurant bill, which our French head chef at the time wrote to 'The Beetles' (!!)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Whirlwind Wedding - Plan a wedding in just 6 weeks

Holdsworth House in Halifax is no stranger to weddings, and traditionally the average time to plan a wedding is 18 months from start to finish. Yet not all our guests have or need the luxury of years to plan their wedding day. In fact we're seeing a trend of many brides taking the 'chilled' approach, with more and more weddings taking place within a few months of booking.

Click here to see Holdsworth House's latest Whirlwind Wedding dates and prices

We asked Holdsworth House's expert wedding coordinator Claire Nicholl (pictured here) to give us her top tips for planning a wedding in no time at all.

HH: Claire, what's the shortest time you've seen a wedding take place from the initial booking?

CN: We've had couples arrange weddings within 6 weeks of walking through the door, it's not that uncommon actually. There are lots of different reasons why, but more recently brides seem a bit more relaxed about the preparations. Couples are very educated and know they can source lots of information and products for their wedding on the internet, so shopping around and making decisions is so much quicker and easier.

Also whilst some couples take the traditional approach of sending out beautiful card invitations, we see some now emailing really inventive and interactive invitations, which also solicits a much faster response if needs be.

The world works much faster than it used to yet expectations are increasing all the time. Just because you fancy tying the knot in a few weeks you don't have to compromise on the quality or standards. They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but just imagine what the Romans could do in a day now?!

HH: What would be your top tips for planning a wedding in 6 weeks?

CN:  OK here we go:

1.   Book your venue and your ceremony

This is your priority and the two go hand in hand (excuse the pun). At Holdsworth House we work closely with the Halifax registrars so once you've checked the date with us, call the Calderdale Register Office on 01422 288080 to book your ceremony. They will talk you through the process of the ceremony and any fees payable to them. If you're getting married in a church or religious venue you can hold your reception with us afterwards. Registrars require at least 15 days notice period for the marriage license, religious venues may be longer.

Use the expert knowledge around you.  Any reputable wedding venue will have a really good wedding coordinator. In fact we have a larger team here at Holdsworth House and over 50 years combined experience of wedding celebrations. You'll have been a guest at a wedding before but this is (probably) the first time you've been through it as a bride or groom - we can talk you through how a really fabulous wedding works and what you can expect on the day.

Be flexible with dates. Civil ceremonies can take place on any day of the week here. As well as Saturdays, popular days are Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Guests are usually more than happy to take a day off work to help you celebrate and then make a weekend/extended stay of it. 

The easiest way to book a wedding is to go for a package, without lots of complicated working out of costs, numbers or add ons. Ours includes room hire, meals, wine, canapes, toastmaster, disco, evening buffet etc. It means that half of the things that you need to sort out are already done for you.

2. Compile a Gift List

Not all couples have one, but guests often want to buy you a present. If you'd prefer people to buy you what you want (rather than end up with a heap of things you'd prefer not to have) then making a gift list is a good option. Most high street department stores offer this service free but I find many people now ask for travel money, gift vouchers or simply the pleasure of the guests' company at their wedding!

3.  Send out your invitations

Getting the invitations out isn't usually a problem, it's getting responses from everyone. You can buy off the shelf wedding invitations to hand write and most printers (on the high street or online) can turn personalised ones around in a week and offer place cards and menus if you wish. I recommend: 

Pickles Printer Halifax: a local firm that offers a design and print service for any kind of stationery
Gibson Doyle  01422 204408: Another Halifax firm offering wedding stationery, with an online store
Hitched.co.uk has a wealth of wedding stationery suppliers too

Make sure the RSVP date is clear. Allow people to RSVP by text or email. You could set up a Facebook Event page for your wedding where people can RSVP. You can also use this to add images, location maps or link to your wedding venue. On your invite make sure you include:
  • Date and arrival time
  • Whether you're inviting them to the wedding and evening or just the evening party
  • Venue - location map, postcode and telephone number
  • How guests can book accommodation
  • RSVP date and method: phone, letter, Twitter, Facebook... anything goes these days
  • Dress code
  • Gift list

3. Find your dress

Many brides panic that bridal shops won't be able to order in their dresses in a short timeframe and that fittings take weeks. This is untrue - most good retailers will work to your timescales. Or you could buy dresses straight from many department stores like John Lewis, Debenhams or Monsoon.  Bridesmaids and menswear can also be found off the peg or you could opt for a colour theme and have each bridesmaid choose their own outfit to fit the theme.

We like local suppliers: 
Cameo Rose Vintage Inspired Accessories:  07734 821232
Greenwoods Menswear 01422 350645
The Swanky Bride 01422 206640

We've had some ultra-trendy weddings recently where vintage has been big. Dresses available from vintage shops or mums' 1970 pre-worn wedding dresses are seeing a massive come back.

4.  Photographers and Flowers

With the improvements in camera technology you might be tempted to 'do it yourself' but a really good wedding photographer takes the strain off you, gets the all-important brilliant and memorable pictures and is worth their weight in gold. We don't make any commission from the suppliers we recommend so rest assured I'm speaking from the heart!

Holdsworth House looks great at any time of the year but a good photographer will help to get the lighting right for indoor shots of you and your guests so that your fond memories are captured in every picture. A wedding not on a Saturday will give you the best chance for top suppliers to be available.

I recommend local photographers:
Alex Knight Photography 0113 204 9857 
Andy Wade Photography 07970 377567

Flowers are another area where you get what you pay for.  Do you really have time to find your way through the flower markets, source all the necessary vases and decoration? The florists we work with work fast and professionally. You really can't beat their creations, inspiration and quality. A florist can transform your room and bouquet into something that will look stunning and smell amazing.

We love:
Just Jasmine Flowers 07971 475718
Stems Design 07973786570

Professional cakes are something that can be baked and dressed in around 2-3 weeks at a push and can be personalised to your colour scheme or theme. One of our local cake suppliers is Maria Webster Cakes 01274 882020 or try Three Tier Cakes on 01422 330441.

Do you need a cake in a hurry? If you do, then try the ones from Marks and Spencers available to order and collect within a few days.  Think of innovative ways of stacking them e.g. candlesticks between them, small vases filled with dried flowers.

Alternatively opt for a cheese cake, which takes very little preparation at all. Three tiers of different cheeses, which are fabulous for munching on throughout the evening. The one we offer is pictured here.

5. Come for your wedding tasting

I'll keep in touch with the bride and groom in the run up to the wedding and call them if I need to remind them of things that need sorting at the venue. Around 2-3 weeks before your wedding you should give your final numbers. If you've booked at Holdsworth House then you'll be coming for your menu tasting to finalise the menu so that our Chef can begin ordering the correct supplies in.

I'll run through the table layouts and timings. I know the questions to ask so brides and grooms have fun making all the decisions.

6. Buy your wedding ring

Most jewellers have standard wedding rings in stock and resizing takes a matter of hours. So this is really a last on the list job, unless you're after something unusual or bespoke, which might be a bit more tricky.

If you're in West Yorkshire then try Iain Henderson Jewellery on 01274 551224 for something tailor made, or Kingston Gold in Halifax - 01422 252025 - for beautiful traditional rings.

7. Book your honeymoon

Wow, take a pin and stick into a map - there must be somewhere you'd like to go? Any tour operator will help create you a holiday package. Or search online for last minute deals and grab yourself a bargain! 

8. Book your hen/stag party

Now the fun really starts. Some brides ask their chief bridesmaid to make the hen party arrangements, others like to be fully in control and do it themselves. But gone are the days when brides want to go all out on a cheesy (not so memorable) night on the town; sophistication is the name of the game. Holdsworth House offers an overnight hen House Party which lets you take advantage of our private dining rooms with their iPod stations, cocktails and gin menus so you can wine and dine in style. If you're after more of an action packed weekend, we'd recommend Rokt in Brighouse for a complete unique indoor climbing, abseiling, adrenaline-packed time.

For the men, a group golf break is good whether you're beginners or amateurs. We've tied up with West End Golf Club in Halifax to offer some great views, great dining and friendly rivalry for stag parties. 

9. Enjoy it

Everything really can be taken care of quickly and easily. The organising should be as fun as the day itself and with the help of friends and professionals, you're guaranteed the whirlwind wedding of the season.