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This year marks the 25th anniversary of weddings at Norfolk gem Thurning Hall. Here owner Lara Lacey shares fond memories of her family home and reveals what couples can look forward to in the future.
"My mother licensed the property in 1995 and during her 60th birthday party, rather than enjoying retirement she announced her new business venture. A year later, weddings at Thurning Hall were launched and we soon became a well-known venue and one of the few licensed properties in Norfolk. The criteria to be a licensed wedding venue back then was strict, it had to be a brick building of historical interest. Nowadays most structures can be licensed with the introduction of duo ceremonies indoors and out.
"Throughout this time, we have seen many changes including the introduction of civil partnerships which was a huge success story for us. When I turned 18, in-between working summer seasons at holiday camps, I helped my mother with the preparations for most of the ceremonies. Together we would host on average 20 weddings during the summer season and a few smaller ceremonies in the winter. Now we have a next-generation female at the helm taking Thurning forward for the next 25 years.
"The fundamentals of a wedding will never change but we have certainly seen lots of trends and fashions come and go. From styling cranes to full circus marquees to a more refined traditional poled marquee. I have enjoyed watching different types of flowers come in and out of fashion and restyling the gardens to suit. I am now replanting varieties my mother got rid of 25 years ago, marigolds and gypsophila!
"My mother lives with us at the house and although she is not involved on a day-to-day basis with the wedding planning, she always wants to know about our couples and how each wedding has gone. Just recently I have been reminiscing about various wedding styles, especially catering as that has changed tremendously, from chefs busying away in their tall hats garnishing silver platters of cold meats and salads and silver-serving meat and veg to what we're seeing today; ultra-cool chefs producing the most ambitious creations, the new-age buffets which we now call grazing tables.
"There has been such a tremendous change in wedding styles, couples are personalising their day so much more and many of the old-fashioned wedding traditions are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There was a time when a white damask cloth, a comfy chair, some carnations in a vase was all that mattered, Now I help to organise highly dramatic installations and creations; nothing is impossible and that's why I love what I do and always will!"