As Hotel Bristol's new wedding organiser, Emma Young continues a family tradition of these great events spanning generations. But how have couples and their celebrations changed over the years? From tastes in food to fashion, we take a look at the world of weddings in Cornwall across the decades, along with a view on what makes the hotel as special as it has ever been for new brides and grooms.
How have the size and cost of Cornish weddings changed over the years?
If anything, they have got bigger. Perhaps this is because friendship groups have got bigger and people are more able to travel? A typical wedding in the 1960s or 70s would have been fifty to sixty guests (although some ran to over 150!). These days eighty-plus must be average.
Costs are always relative. In 1965, our records show that a wedding for 91 people cost one-hundred and twenty pounds, nine shillings and two-pence! But back then the average house cost around £3,500. It’s probably also fair to say that fifty years ago, a wedding at a beautiful venue such as a seaside hotel in Cornwall was seen as a luxury by many, whereas today it is normal to want a special venue (as opposed to the village hall or local boozer!).
Do you have any tips for the budget conscious couple?
Do find out what the wedding venue will offer as part of the package or throw in at no extra charge. Here at Hotel Bristol we’re always keen to keep things affordable, so we offer free room hire for the wedding breakfast, along with discounted accommodation rates for guests and a free suite for the bride and groom.
Otherwise, my advice would be not to feel like you have to go over the top with your wedding day. There are plenty of low cost things that can be done to make the occasion special. Try to budget your overall wedding plan carefully and we will always do our best to meet it.
How has wedding food changed from previous generations?
In a huge way! Wedding menus were once far simpler at Hotel Bristol; people had simpler tastes and choice was more limited than it is today. Back in the 70s, for example, standard dishes would have been roast chicken or steak and chips. Prawn cocktail would have been a really sophisticated starter! Another decadent treat for well-to-do wedding guests would be cream tea on the beach.
These days, couples have much better choice. Wedding menus have become a lot more sophisticated at the hotel, for example, with canapes and various courses typical as opposed to a simple main and dessert. Of course, those with special dietary needs such as celiacs and vegetarians are also well catered for too.
What has stayed unique or special about Hotel Bristol?
Apart from the beautiful setting so near the beach, I think it is the family-run feel and high level of personal service that makes it one of those truly special places to get married in Cornwall. We look after every couple and treat every event as something unique and individual. And of course, if they want their honeymoon or mini-moon immediately after the wedding, it is a wonderful region for a romantic break! We get a lot of couples returning on their anniversary too- and we offer a free meal on their first anniversary.
What one tip would you give a bride and groom on their wedding day?
I’d say just be yourselves and enjoy the day. Your wedding planner and the staff are here to look after you, so above all relax and take it all in.
What things have surprised you or stood out most at recent weddings?
Some of the guests travel a very long way to be there, which is amazing- and tells you just how much a wedding means to close friends and family. We have had people who came from Australia, America or even Bermuda just to be at the wedding.
As for features that stand out, there are so many imaginative things that friends and wedding suppliers can provide these days. Brilliant bands, amazing magicians, fantastic vintage vehicles… and not least of all, all those special personal touches from friends and family that make each occasion what it is.