Now this is necessarily a long blog entry for reasons that will become obvious. I’ve been away from my desk for a couple of weeks and yet Dillington keeps going regardless, which is as it should be. This morning I was told of a piece written by a couple who got married with us just over ten years ago. So inspired by our service to them they set up their own wedding business! This is their story…
In 2002 Gill and I were lucky enough to celebrate our wedding with a reception in the idyllic surroundings of sixteenth century Dillington House. It was as perfect a July day as one can imagine, sunny and warm without being sweltering, a light breeze to keep our assembled guests comfortable, and an evening that held the day’s pleasant heat such that no-one wanted to leave.
The ambience of this fabulous old building is difficult to beat. The sweeping drive by which you approach the front of the house, embraced by stunning parkland, takes your breath away and leaves you in no doubt that this is a very special place indeed. The rooms that accommodate the wedding breakfast are full of charm and character. They have this wonderful feeling of intimacy that you cannot achieve in a large ballroom, and the result is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere
Our story was one of good fortune from the beginning. Following some difficult times for us both, the year prior to organising our wedding had been wonderful, but when we made the decision, we knew that we didn’t want to wait for years to be able select the venue of our dreams, and when we approached Dillington they had just had a cancellation for the first Saturday in July. We arranged to visit to view the wonderful facilities and booked on the spot. This was not an opportunity we could miss! It left us with less than six months to arrange everything, and bring our families and friends together from across Europe.
Perhaps it’s a familiar story, but getting everyone to join us wasn’t a problem, nor was the accommodation (Dillington’s on-site facilities are brilliant, and very reasonable), choosing the superb quality food was easy too, and the staff at Dillington could not have been more helpful or more friendly. The problems we experienced were all with the little things – the table decorations, the invitations, and the other extras that we wanted to make the day personal to ourselves. We had such a job finding good quality products that suited our wedding, and those we did find were spread over a whole range of different shops
With a little determination, and a certain amount of wasted time, we resolved these issues in time and it was a truly wonderful day. However, searching for them caused a level of anxiety and irritation, particularly as we were both working full time and were on a tight timetable. As is often the case in the face of adversity, the seed of an idea was formed from all this. Celebrations come in a variety of forms, but our experience had been one that suggested it was far easier to find somewhat tacky products than it was to find really good quality, and we had to hunt high and low to gather ideas from several different locations and companies.
So our idyllic day in Dillington turned into a business idea, and because we gave it a lot of thought whilst looking at the photographs of our special day and remembering the scenes of happiness on everyone’s smiling faces during our wedding speeches, we called it So Raise Your Glasses.
Our wedding was followed by a period of intense activity as we dreamed up a myriad of ideas and researched the variety of gorgeous products from quality suppliers that we knew would be necessary to provide a comprehensive range. Our starting point was the celebrations that we wanted to focus our business on. We started, naturally enough, with weddings, and engagement, and then added the major wedding anniversaries, the big birthdays and looking to the beginnings of life, Christenings and Naming Days.
Once the major celebrations had been identified, we had to identify the variety of products that people want for occasions of this kind, and in talking to our customers over an extended period we have managed to construct a range that appeals to a wide variety of discerning customers. We had a wonderful example in what we saw at Dillington to know just how to provide the service that our customers want and expect, and that’s what we now strive to deliver every day.
A year after our wedding Gill had resigned from a senior position to focus entirely on our new business, and a year after that we opened our first shop in Taunton. We opened our first shop in Taunton in 2004 and went on line in 2005. As the website gained momentum we decided to focus completely on line and in 2010 moved to more suitable premises. The original ideas that started it all are still very much at the heart of what we do today.
Our first website was launched in the summer of 2005, and we are now operating with our third and best website from a village less than 10 miles from Dillington, and just a mile from our home. Living in this beautiful part of Somerset has kept the memories of that marvellous day in 2002 fresh and alive for us all this time, but there’s no doubt where the inspiration for our business was born – Dillington House
Wedding Photograph by Pauline Rook
To visit Gill & Philip’s website follow the link www.soraiseyourglasses.com/
and keep up to date with all their news on twitter @SoRaiseYG