I work in the travel and tourism industry and can be extremely picky ( ok most of the time!) however, I can honestly say hand on heart I couldn't fault the staff and the hotel when it came to our wedding.
We like other couples, excitedly went to a number of different hotels and venues when choosing our reception venue (we decided to marry in a church) - including Royal Berkshire, Pennyhill Park, Some place over in Slough and the Compleat Angler over in Marlow. Initially we didn't look at The Berystede because it wasn't on our radar... but after hearing through the grapevine that our chosen venue was going to have large building work (we had nearly finalised everything) we found ourselves back to square one after believing we had sorted it all. Then a friend recommended the Berystede so I gave them a call and basically booed like a baby down the phone to Sarah McClaren the then wedding planner.
Once she had calmed me down she invited me down to the hotel who were on that evening having a wedding open evening and that also my proposed date was available too! I don't know whether it was the fact they felt sorry for me, or that it was meant to be but as soon as I walked into the open evening and met all the team (who had heard of my plight) I instantly felt at ease and more relaxed - I mean that may have been the Prosecco that was thrust into my hand but undoubtedly it was also the warmth friendliness and caring nature of all the sales and events team. My fiancee (now husband) couldn't make the evening so we re arranged to meet and show around the following day.
It has to be said, Sarah and I completely hit it off, and she totally got what I was looking for and after another look around with my other half we all sat down and looked at putting a bespoke package together.
I put bespoke package as it was completely bespoke and that was the beauty of the Berystede, they were so flexible.... we found with other hotels there was no flex the packages were the packages but with this hotel we could really tailor our wants and needs in order to get the wedding reception we wanted. Another example of flexibility was the hotel allowed us to bring in our own beer from the Marlow brewery as we wanted a beer festival for the evening reception and charged us a small corkage fee. All other hotels stated we had to use their supplier. The Berystede took delivery of the beer from the brewery, chilled it and sorted the Kegs plus the pick up after out event. This went down really well at the wedding and we got great feedback from our guests.
Food and Beverage in the hotel
Before signing on the dotted line, we invited our parents to come and view the hotel as well, and they too liked the team and felt the general feel of the hotel was what we were looking for. The 'feel' was really important for us as because most of our guests will be staying at the hotel for multiple nights, we wanted somewhere that wasn't stuffy, was relaxed but had great service and this just fitted the bill they were also able to offer us some excellent rates for our guests and also - we felt that the price point of the beverages and food was reasonable as well.
Sarah and the team were always at the end of the phone if I needed to ask anything or run anything past them. They were always so warm and friendly on the phone and they really know their hotel as I always got an answer quickly. You really felt that they cared about your wedding and you were not just a number.
Days leading up to the wedding // table planning
On another visit to the Berystede we met Lauren who is nothing short than a little gem. Having recently married herself, she completely understands how you feel and puts you at ease straight away. She really knows her stuff. It was great chatting to her about the different table sizes (I know you probably haven't even thought of it!) and the table settings and space depending on how many people you have on the table.... She also has extremely high standards when it comes to customer service and service delivery and you immediately felt she would run your wedding like clockwork and expect the best from her staff.
We also had a wonderful experience during our menu tasting, the restaurant staff have excellent knowledge on the wines and they also understand their menu as well. The level of customer service in the restaurant was fantastic - it was poncy or posh it was just right for us, warm friendly but extremely professional. We also met the chef as well and were able to change things around on the menu ( I think we swapped the spuds!) and also discuss the dietary requirements for our guests that had them.
A week prior to the wedding we met with Sarah to go through final numbers and go through the timings for the day which was great as I liked to visualise what the day would be like (with their experience, they can advise you on things like amount of time for drinks and canapes etc) . We also discussed what we would like for our private breakfast the next day, which was another fantastic bonus as we had over 130 people staying the night of the wedding so it would be great to have people in one place the next day as well.
Another bonus we loved was that we could bring all the stuff (You have loads!!!) for the wedding down two days before and Sarah had booked us a meeting room so we could store it. We had bought gifts for our wedding party and Sarah made sure they were placed in their individual rooms for when they checked in. Its little things like this that made you realise they were trying to make your life easier!!! If we had to remember all this the day before, it would have been so much more stressful!
Day Before the wedding
We met with Lauren to once again go through the day and once again felt instantly reassured the she would be running the day - although we had gone through it all with Sarah it felt great to go over it again as you felt reassured that everyone knew 100% what was happening and that they cared!!! We also met with the Duty Manager Chris, who was going to be running the breakfast the morning after the wedding. He was also going to be there on our wedding day as well to ensure things all went smoothly.
We had about 80 people staying the night before the wedding and the hotel offered for us to have a separate area for dinner but we decided not to go with that as people were arriving at different times but what a great thing to offer!!!
Day of the wedding!!!!
Being able to get ready in a huge room is a bonus and if the bridal suite is available you can have this straight away but I booked a suite anyway so would definitely recommend doing this. We had about 9 people in the room just before leaving and it didn't feel crowded at all. You don't see anyone as such at this point as we weren't getting married as such in the hotel but I just knew everything would be ok.
Upon returning to the hotel as a married couple! We were really impressed with the way everything was set up and run, it was so smooth and everyone had a good time. And the overwhelming impression was that the staff work really really hard and take pride in what do and genuinely want you to have the best day. Lauren was FANTASTIC I cannot fault her, she was there when I needed her and blended into the background in order to deliver a wonderful wedding breakfast. Chris was also a great presence, directing people and helping our guests if they need anything. I cannot fault the staff.
There was nothing that I could have said needed to be improved when it came to the wedding breakfast and the same could be said for the evening reception as well. The room was changed around super swiftly and the beer festival as well as our photo was set up and the room looked brilliant when we reentered for the evening reception.
I didn't quite realise how tired I would be, but upon getting back to the room (don;t forget your cards and presents!!!) we were delighted to be greeted with a few slabs of wedding cake and a note from Lauren. This was a welcome treat to have with a cup of tea!
There is nothing I would say would have improved my wedding from a venue and service perspective, I could have made this review shorter but there were so many wonderful things that the hotel did I couldn't justify leaving them out. I was thrilled by the level of service and experience we had from the hotel as a whole, from the initial enquiry to checking out the morning after. The food was incredible, service was delightful and I had the best day.
If you are considering the Berystede for your wedding just do it - its the type of hotel where you as a couple will be made to feel how you should be on your wedding day... the most important couple in the world.
Thank you to the whole team!!!
Victoria. and Richard .