A husband and wife team who have organized hundreds of weddings at the Shepherd Neame pub they run are set to celebrate 30 years at the site alongside 30 of the couples who have married there over the years.
Janet and Philippe Sorak joined The Barn in Lonsdale Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, as General Managers back in 1992.
The beamed building is licensed for civil ceremonies, and has gone on to become a romantic oasis in the bustling town centre for some 60 couples a year since they launched weddings in 2011.
It has proved so popular that now the pair rarely have a weekend free, choosing to work almost every one, and have become friends with former couples, suppliers, photographers and florists.
Their success was recognised at the Kent Wedding Awards recently when The Barn won Boutique Wedding Venue of the year. They also won in 2013, 2016 and 2019, and were Highly Commended last year.
And their 30th anniversary celebration in January, marking when they took on the site, will be the icing on the cake as several of their former brides are expected to attend in their original gowns.
It comes as Janet and Philippe also recently held a week to mark the anniversary by offering a 1992 menu – at 1992 prices – including classic dish
es such as prawn cocktails and knickerbocker glories.
Thirty years ago when the pair began managing The Barn, working with licensees Ron Zanre and Patrick McGuire, who has recently retired, their first day was memorable for other reasons, as Janet went into labour with their first child, Chloe, who was also christened in the in the garden there.
Philippe said: “We did 17 weddings a year to begin with, and we worked hard to raise our profile, show what we could offer and convince people to choose us for their special day. You have got to have the will to want that business. From then on we did an average of 60 weddings a year – every week is just solid.”
The venue can accommodate 70 guests for the ceremony and wedding breakfast, and 150 guests for the evening reception. They try to always cater for the couple’s specific needs, and Philippe works his magic with whatever decorations are requested.
He said: “They want to feel you are going to look after them. They can be anxious so we have to reassure them and make it all go smoothly.”
Janet said: “Our team are absolutely brilliant and a lot of them have been with us many years. This isn’t a 9 to 5 job for us – we always put the wedding couples first. We are always around and available to them. And in return they keep in touch and even bring their children in with them later. It is lovely.”
She added: “It has also been wonderful to work with Ron and Patrick over the years. They have been amazing and looked after us so well.”