Perfect partnership

Two friends who met while supplying cakes and flowers to a wedding have joined forces to set up a new business, offering a one-stop-shop of local suppliers for the big day.

Florist Keri Harvey and cake designer Dawn Gigg have ploughed all their savings into converting a rambling old rectory in Wallingford into a home for local businesses called The Wedding House, complete with mirrors and chandeliers.

Couples can buy flowers and cakes from the shop in front, then visit the rectory to choose outfits for the bride, groom, bridesmaids and even the mother of the bride, book a venue, beauty treatments, catering and photography.

Mother-of-two Mrs Gigg, 43, said: “We met through weddings and that grew into a friendship. We know from our separate businesses that brides are looking for a different way of shopping.

“My lease came up for renewal and I had a small coffee shop which was not the main focus of the business. Keri’s shop in Station Road is too big for her so I moved in with her to concentrate on cakes. It’s just in front of the rectory in Station Road, five minutes’ walk from the town centre, where I was before, and it has been the best move, because people can park outside. “Our clientele is changing, and clients who come in to buy flowers buy cakes, and vice versa. It has increased business for both of us.

“It is perfect for wedding couples because they don’t want to traipse about town. No-one has a great deal of time nowadays. They want to do it all in one shop.”

The three-storey rectory, which had been empty for four years, has been converted to hold 13 separate shopfronts. They include Aisle B Yours and Mae Bridal wedding dress boutiques, video filming, a beauty parlour, hairdresser and make-up artist, decorative balloons, travel agent and Countryside Venues, which hires out wedding venues. Caterers include Delicious of Wantage and Fingers and Forks, hats are on offer from Louise Claire Millinery, while Louise Potton Designs and Love Wedding Print offers personalised wedding stationery and South Oxon Pet Services pampers your pet.

There’s even a magician and a limousine hire company, plus a ‘snug’ with an X-box, coffee and magazines, intended for men who hate shopping.

Mrs Gigg, who spent 20 years as a recruitment consultant before setting up her business, The Glorious Bake Shop in Wallingford’s High Street, said: “We have four rooms left and we are being selective. “We are looking for independent traders who provide good service.”

She feels the risk of investing so much in the venture has paid off already. “Whatever the Government says, I’m afraid the banks are not willing to lend to small businesses, so it’s all self-funded.”

The Glorious Bakeshop and Keri Harvey Florist employ eight staff and The Wedding House is expected to employ another 20. It is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm.

Contact: Glorious Bakeshop – 01491 826536 Keri Harvey Florist – 01491 838005 Web: weddinghousewallingford.co.uk

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