Q&A with Carole from Duncton Mill & The Naked Food Company

Q. As we know it’s not been a normal year. How are you coping with everything? What’s this year been like for you?

A. It became apparent very early on that things were going to be incredibly different this year. I knew it was going to be a rollercoaster for me but the worst thing was that my clients were really going to suffer. I decided immediately that I would do everything I could to make postponing their dream days as quick and painless as possible. I started by rolling over all of my catering and venue bookings and deposits into 2021 & 2022 without exception or any financial penalties. This approach felt like the right thing to do for me, and I know it was gratefully received by my clients and their families. In terms of how it’s been for me, well, I have taken it all in my stride and in all honesty I relish a challenge! I took on a new business in July which has kept me busy and allowed me to not dwell too much on having to put my beloved Naked Food Company and Duncton Mill Weddings on hold for a year.

Q. We know your catering company The Naked Food Company has been based onsite at Duncton for a number of years. For anyone not familiar with the venue can you briefly explain the set-up for weddings?

A. I have a beautiful lakeside wedding venue which is set-up for a marquee or tipi structure depending on what the client requires for their day. Our clients can take full advantage of our wedding planning service and allow us to do it all for them, or they can put it all together themselves using our list of wonderful recommended suppliers. With regards to catering we offer a fabulous range of menus and service styles to suit a variety of budgets. Under the umbrella of catering we take care of food, drinks, staffing, service equipment and bar supplies. We even give each client their very own event manager to ensure everything is taken care of on the day.

Q. The restoration of your onsite barn was underway when we last spoke. What’s the progress on that?

A. The barns progress has definitely been hampered by Covid. Our trades people had to stop work, planning authorities have been unable to come out to sign things off and my change of use application has been delayed.  With all of that said I am hoping that things may be able to proceed in December with a view to the barn being finished in February time.

Q. Are you currently able to do viewings/tastings?

A. Viewings and tastings have been going ahead but not nearly as many as usual. I think a lot of couples are holding back from booking wedding venues and caterers until they are a bit more certain about what future restrictions may hold. It’s also incredibly difficult to get wedding insurance now which will cover pandemics, so paying deposits is a bit of a risk.

Q. What do you think couples love about Duncton Mill as a wedding venue?

A. The stunning tranquillity of the lakes and the sound of the flowing natural spring water is such a unique thing to have within a wedding venue. It’s such a treat to be surrounded by wildlife and nature at its best. Having your own little motor boat for the afternoon is also a wonderful perk at Duncton Mill!

Q. What do you love about weddings and events?

A. From the minute I receive an inquiry, whether it be for a wedding or a corporate event, I become excited about meeting the client and developing their ideas into something fabulous! I have a tendency to reel off suggestions there and then and although they sound incredible at the time, I do sometimes get to event days and think to myself ‘why on earth did I come out with this suggestion’?! I definitely don’t make life easy for myself but I don’t do things by half, and I enjoy challenging myself, so I really wouldn’t have it any other way!

Q. Have the events of this year changed you personally and affected your ideas for the future of the business/es.

A. I wouldn’t say the events of the year have changed me personally as I am quite an adaptable person. I’m not someone who needs routine and I can function in amongst chaos. I think that comes from my restaurant cheffing days. My wedding venue has become dormant until next year but I am confident it will be back on track as soon as restrictions are lifted. I decided to diversify with my catering company and I have created a great side line doing afternoon tea deliveries and mail order cakes. It’s a fraction of what the business would have been doing this year but I’m not complaining and I have thoroughly enjoyed making each and every order I get. I had to create my online shop on my website very quickly to get things going and it works very well.

Q. What advice would you give engaged couples at this strange time?

A. It’s such an uncertain time to be planning a large wedding.  My advice to couples who have already booked their weddings would be to keep a close eye on restrictions and to not be afraid to speak with suppliers about your worries. We may not have all the answers but we will do our best to keep you informed and to make suggestions about backup plans. I think having a plan B is really important. I have a set date in the diary for each client and I also have a ‘what if’ date should we have to roll the date again – having this in the background is a really good way to avoid disappointment and it can give everyone some reassurance that we will get there eventually!




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