This weekend saw us out at 5 weddings in a 6 day period starting on the Thursday at fellow 2012 Kent Wedding Award Finalist (and winner of the best venue) The Old Kent Barn, which is in Swingfield, Kent. The venue had gone about quite a few changes since my last visit there 4 years ago, and with a Motown band also booked for the entertainment it was set to be a colourful evening in the Kent countryside …
Shanita & Philip Helyar – The Old Kent Barn, Swingfield, Kent, 29/8/2013
venue – website
music preferences: – Latest Charts, R&B, Rock
On my last visit the venue were using a marquee but have since built a beautiful new barn, its around three years old now but totally pristine and is laid out to perfection in all respects, it functions excellently for not just the wedding party but also for suppliers as far as access is concerned for live entertainment …in fact everything in the barn is the mirror image of the way it was laid out previously as a marquee venue but with the capabilities to entertain for the largest of weddings. We quickly met up with Hilary the owner …and her son-in-law Will (who was running the wedding in the evening). I remembered them both well from my previous visit and being back at The Old Kent Barn reminded me that what I have always liked so much about this venue is that its the personal touch of a family run business.
As a business owner myself I know that going the extra mile and reputation is so important in the wedding industry …and it comes as no surprise that they collected the Kent Wedding Venue of the Year Award. Hilary and the team offer exceptional customer service, attention to detail and backed up by the performance of the well drilled staff no stone is left unturned to give clients a great Kent countryside wedding experience.
DJ’s and Bands setting up to play at The Old Kent Barn will enter the barn from the car park end, after pulling up right next to the barn the access is via a gate then you are immediately through a side door and straight onto the stage, it couldn’t be more straight forward. The design of the barn has been very well thought out with the kitchens and service area built seperately behind the stage …with a door either side, the staff serve the food from one door returning back to the service area through the other so its well organised and co-ordinated.
The stage has a lovely draped white backdrop which we used a slow water effect light on which looked very effective but its also backlit with pearl spotlights. As you stand on the stage looking down the barn you have the toilets and bar in the centre to the right, so great that the bar is still inside the barn and the toilets are very high spec and even come with subtle bird sound effects, giving it a countryside tranquil feeling …a nice touch I thought. There are also six gorgeous oak beams each side of the barn towards the far end where the top table is positioned with a windowed backdrop, overall the barn has a classy, fresh, bright and spacious feel to it whilst maintaining the character of an original barn.
As we set up the uplighters on the beams to match the flowers (dusky pink with a hint of green) the in house PA was broadcasting Shanita and Phillip’s ceremony which was staged outside under the gazebo thanks to the favourable weather conditions, the PA at the venue is great as it also enables a roaming in house mic to be used around the grounds of the venue to keep guests informed of formal events (cake cutting, first dance etc) if they have gone off for a wander, what was also handy is that I organised Shanita’s background music for the meal and then plugged my laptop into the venues JBL speaker system at the bar …this offers a balanced output around the venue during the afternoon.
Next up the food, I had the lamb which was cooked beautifully, I don’t recall eating such a generous portion of lamb without coming across a single bone …served in a gorgeous vegetable and wine sauce it was certainly a meal to remember, 10/10 🙂
The whole afternoon was extremely efficient and with the speeches at the start of the wedding breakfast I think the daytime formalities were wrapped up by about 630 giving guests some time to stretch their legs and enjoy the bar as I played some Soca/Afrobeats and R&B during the build up to the first dance at 8pm.
Shanita had booked a Motown band a few weeks beforehand, the 6 members of “Motown Gold” (including sound technition) were going to need the majority of the space on the stage so I had set up to the side for this one as I was conscious of the amount of space they would need. To keep the stage as large as possible I opted for the use of four uplit plinths at the front of the dancefloor along with the water effect light and a couple of floor standing scanner barrels for additional effects. The evening was structured so that I played the first dance and then introduced the band for their first set which got underway bang on time at 815. There is a sound limiter installed at the venue, but its a very generous 100db which is pretty decent in todays climate and it was only tripped once by the band, in defence of the sound limiter system the music was automatically restored within literally seconds so it really didn’t prove disruptive by any means. In fact a band can work around it if the drummer continues to play – only once or twice during my second set did I have to adjust my levels but overall it shouldn’t give a DJ any problems, overall without a doubt the best sound limiter I have worked with and actually installed correctly unlike some of the dreadful examples at other venues I have played at that are triggered by people singing …nothing to report in that respect here I’m pleased to say.
As “Motown Gold” finished their first set, the aroma of the evening barbeque was just starting to filter into the barn from the patio just outside …I then managed to get a lively 25 minute DJ set in as the band took a break before getting outside to sample the buffet just after 945 as the band kicked off their second set. What I thought was great was that overall everything here is all done in close vicinity of the barn keeping everyone close knit throughout the day.
The buffet was a fantastic selection of chicken, sausages and burgers with baps, pitta and some lovely sauces …my particular favourite was the spicy mayo made up by one of the girls so check that out if you ever get the chance.
The second set (final hour) comprised of 17 songs incorporating Rock and more R&B before a couple of Shanita’s friends organised the Cha Cha Slide for the bride near the end, a dance routine that she had apparantly taught them some years ago before we gave Shanita the option to choose the last song which was one of her Rihanna favourites “Where Have You Been” which she sung to her new husband.
Finally a very good touch by the venue, with the last song at 1130 the venue immediately switch on their in house PA system to play music at a lower volume following the final song. There’s always calls for “one more song” at the end of a night, but with a strict finish time to adhere to and local residents to consider the venue softens the blow somewhat by doing this. Its an excellent tactical move to keep everyone in good spirits at the end of the night and like everything else at The Old Kent Barn its all about attention to detail and using years of experience to deliver the ultimate service.
Congratulations to Shanita and Philip, considering the bride had organised all of this in around three months she did a fantastic job and we wish them all the best for their honeymoon and future together …also all the best also to The Old Kent Barn at the Kent Wedding Awards as they defend their title in November, we’ll see you there !
So a great start to a very busy weekend for us, tomorrow we move onto Clandon Park in Surrey for Kate & Philip’s wedding at the National Trust venue, Hannah & Tomas at Grims Dyke Hotel in Middlesex on Saturday before our Soundproof package at Chilston Park on Sunday finishing off 8 weddings in 11 days at Pembroke Lodge on Tuesday for Lucy & Andrews wedding.
If you were at Shanita & Philip’s wedding how about leaving us a comment at the bottom of this page
First Dance Use Somebody (Bonus Track) Tyrone Wells
– Band Set 1
– DJ Set 1
She’s Got That Vibe R. Kelly
Here Comes the Hotstepper Ini Kamoze
No Diggity (Radio Version) Blackstreet & Dr. Dre
Antenna (UK Radio Edit) Fuse ODG
Temperature Sean Paul
Oliver Twist D’Banj
212 (feat. Lazy Jay) Azealia Banks
– Band Set 2
– DJ Set 2
I’m a Believer Smash Mouth
Place Your Hands Reef
Don’t Stop Believin’ Journey
Chelsea Daggers Fratellis
Sex On Fire Kings of Leon
Mr. Brightside Killers
Crazy In Love Beyoncé 99.26
Rock Ya Body MVP 103.00
Be Faithful Fat Man Scoop (Ft. Faith Evans) 103.71
Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) Beyoncé 96.99
Party Up DMX
Yeah Usher Feat. Lil’ Jon and Ludac
Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell) Robin Thicke
Tease Me Chaka Demus & Pliers
Cha Cha Slide (DJ Düse Mix) DJ Casper
Where Have You Been Rihanna