Just last year the opening of Wharfedale Grange was a spectacular affair, the fizz was flowing, a helicopter hovered beside the heart-shaped lake and the whole event was simply breathtaking. Nestled in rolling countryside between Leeds and Harrogate, it’s hard to believe that the luxury four barns and stunning farmhouse wedding venue, not so long ago, was a full on, high-yielding, working farm.
Its sumptuous transformation is all down to the vision of owner and interior designer Claire Thomas, “It was a lot of hard work but the result is absolutely amazing and everything I wanted it to be. There’s a real joy in hosting weddings for people, not just from the UK, but from all over the world who want to get married in stylish surroundings in a picturesque location. International guests are certainly impressed by Yorkshire and all it has to offer too.”
Wharfedale Grange is home to mother of four Claire and the place she spent many happy years with her partner Richard Snowden on their 200 acre farm, producing wheat, oats, micro vegetables, soft fruits and 10,000 lettuces each week! The sprawling agricultural hub had been in artist and farmer Richard’s family for decades and as he cultivated the land, Claire was kept busy with her interior design business, revamping top of the range properties and stately homes.
Sometimes though, life throws a catastrophic curveball and in 2010 Richard was diagnosed with cancer and given just six months to live. “I needed to spend what precious time we had left together and put my design business on hold, but I had to do something at home to keep things ticking over financially,” explains Claire.
A marquee was borrowed and promptly erected in one of the fields and the determined entrepreneur put her creative skills to full use, decorating to a high standard and ensuring the stunning setting appealed to couples wanting to tie the knot in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside.
It was a huge sell-out success and weddings were arranged with brides and grooms from across the globe. “One couple from Sweden had seen the beautiful images of Yorkshire on TV when watching the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014 and knew that their perfect marriage location was right here. They were not disappointed.” Claire explains.
Richard went on to receive treatment for the next 4 1/2 years, continuing to work as an artist and on the farm, as Claire arranged stylish weddings, allowing time for the pair to be side by side and a crucial support for one another. After Richard’s passing, Claire realised that farming wasn’t for her. “Not with my nails!” she exclaims.
One thing she knew she could do and do well, was arranging wonderful weddings and parties. Claire had four barns, acres of land and a fabulous farmhouse, plus the enthusiasm and skills to completely convert the place into not only a luxury wedding location but an ideal events venue too. “From bar mitzvahs to birthday bashes, we’re open for business,” Claire proudly declares.
Proud, she should be too, after many stressful months of jumping through hoops and planning permission challenges, the result is astounding and final details were being finished to the highest standard right down to the wire. As the first bride and groom to celebrate their nuptials at the newly renovated Wharfedale Grange arrived and the crunching of wedding car wheels could be heard on the sweeping gravel drive, Claire was bustling workers, still fixing the final skirting boards to the walls, out of the back door.
Enter the wonderful world of Wharfedale Grange, with a stunning ceremony room complete with a cascade of twinkling lights, a chic cocktail bar stacked with spirits, champers and so many more tipples, a marvellous mezzanine sprinkled with sparkling chandeliers and elegant, soft velvet furnishings, parties from 50 – 250 can be catered for in the vast dining hall with spectacular views. There’s even a private luxury suite for the bride and bridesmaids to dress and make those flawless final touches. Decadent design dominates in the ladies loo too with Prosecco on tap for that all important top-up!
Working closely with specially selected local businesses to make sure that every requirement for a perfect party has been catered for, from caterers to music performers, photography to floristry and an impressive on-site kitchen, the team at Wharfedale Grange are on hand for that all important advice and to accommodate suggested requests.
“We work closely together and our sole aim is to make everyone’s occasion the best it can possibly be in fabulous surroundings,” explains Zach Williamson, Events Manager, with vast experience in bar and restaurant businesses, as well as modelling for international brands!
Floral designers at on-site Leafy Couture can create everything that’s fresh flower and foliage fantastic, from intricate buttonholes to jaw-dropping floral installations.
“We really couldn’t be in a more beautiful and inspiring location”, enthuses expert florist and Leafy Couture owner Sarah Richardson. “We’re a team who love what we do and we work with flowers to produce a range of designs from cutting edge to timeless elegance, taking inspiration from fashion, art and nature, using the best quality blooms from locally sourced growers and international suppliers.”
They say it’s the best day of your life but what do the newlyweds really think?
“It was magical! When we first visited it was still an old barn with no roof and stairs leading to nowhere. We only had to have one conversation with Claire to know that this was going to be the most exquisite and perfect venue for us. We believed in her vision and we couldn’t have been happier with the spectacular transformation into the most impressive wedding venue we have ever seen,” Emily Allen and her husband Luke reminisce.
“The best thing about Wharfedale Grange is the attention to detail and the glamorous décor. Claire has truly thought of everything and her style is impeccable. The dedicated team are so kind and really couldn’t have done any more for us. Everything was under control. It was perfection.” Luke and Emily were married on 11 August and guests flew in from the USA, Australia and all corners of England and Scotland and fell in love with Yorkshire.
Emma Gray and Adam Mulroy were married in September, “We were not only blown away by the stunning venue and the views, but the local suppliers were top-quality and the friendly staff at Wharfedale Grange made everything special, right down to the last detail. It was a fabulous day and we had guests arriving from Scotland, Ireland and the Dordogne, all stunning places but they adored Yorkshire and most stayed on to explore the surrounding area, visiting Harewood House, shopping in boutiques and generally having the best time.”
Asked if they’d recommend Wharfedale Grange to prospective wedding couples, the unanimous response? “I do.”
This article was taken from This is Y 2019.