It’s an incredible venue with some of North Dorset’s best views. And the trustees of Shaftesbury’s Trinity Centre want to showcase the former church’s qualities when they host their first wedding fair on 20th October.
Organiser Trudie Stanley told Alfred that everything needed for a couple’s big day will be on display. “It was certainly a learning curve,” said Trinity Centre trustee Trudie, as she reflected on her mammoth effort in arranging this event. “I got married a very long time ago and all I can say is weddings have changed a lot in that time, but it’s all very exciting.”
Trudie and her team have sourced the type of wedding service providers you might expect, including local florists and stationary services. “Dike and Sons are the caterers and they’re going to do free fizz and nibbles. We’ve got a cake lady who’s bringing some samples. Come in and have a cup of tea with us and just try some of the goodies and look at what the exhibitors are offering,” said Trudie.
Trudie has used her Shaftesbury knowledge and contacts to add some extra sparkle, including Georgie Faulkner-Bryant’s bunting company and three-piece vocal harmony group Belle Street, who can be booked for any occasion. The organisers don’t want to limit the use of this space to weddings and many of the exhibitors could offer services for parties and other celebrations.
The Trinity Centre is a not-for-profit community enterprise that aims to enrich life in our town and Trudie says it was important to promote the best of Shaftesbury. “At least two thirds of the people that are attending are local. I do have a couple more slots available for exhibitors. If there is anybody out there that is a supplier and they are local, please get in touch with me because I’d love to hear from you,” said Trudie.
The former church, which ended worship services in 1974, has recently been refurbished and a new, high quality kitchen and enhanced toilet facilities have been added. “This is the largest hall in Shaftesbury. I think people aren’t aware of the grandeur of it. It’s beautifully decorated. I’d love it if people came along to look at the venue,” said Trudie.
The building retains the impressive appearance of a Victorian church with its perpendicular windows and high, vaulted ceiling. Trudie says that the space could offer couples a church-style setting for their reception if they are marrying at the register office. “We’re quite close to the Town Hall. If people got married in the Town Hall or in St Peter’s they could walk over here,” she said.
Lizzie Tricks is attending the wedding fair. She is a celebrant and she can conduct formal ceremonies. “People can get married here without it being a religious wedding. They would still need to do the registry office wedding and the legal side but they could have a wedding created around their choices and values. There’s also something called a ‘naming ceremony’. That’s a sort of non-religious christening,” said Lizzie.
Trudie says that the space can be booked out for an entire weekend, from Friday to Monday, which allows more time for event organisers to decorate ready for a special function. She says she is very proud of Trinity’s setting. “We’ve got the grounds, which are beautiful, especially in the spring with the snowdrops. And we’ve got Gold Hill and Park Walk only minutes away. So all your photographs can be taken care of in one place,” she said.
And Trinity can offer a wedding or a celebration a backdrop for pictures that no other North Dorset function space can rival. The view from the 26-metre-high tower, accessed using a spiral stone staircase of 126 steps, is expansive and breath-taking.
“To get a photograph of your special day, at the highest point, with the Blackmore Vale in the background, what could be better? I think it would certainly be a unique feature. The tower can be opened, if somebody has a wedding reception here,” said Trudie, who said that visitors to the wedding fair can take in the view across the town and rolling hills towards the coast, Quantocks or Glastonbury Tor. “The tower is open on that Sunday,” she said.
The Trinity Centre’s inaugural Wedding Fair is on Sunday 20th October from 11am until 3pm at Bimport, Shaftesbury. Entrance is free.
“Before they get up the stairs there will be a welcome committee down the bottom and visitors that are coming with a wedding in mind will be given a free goodie bag,” said Trudie. “In the goodie bag, we’ve got all sorts of lovely treats. I’ve got confetti in there and seeds for wildflowers that companies have given me. We’ve got candy, all sorts of nice things. There’s also a free draw. Shirley Allum is giving us a designer hat and Sarah Pettigrew from Spring Hill Florist is giving us a free bouquet. People need to come and put their names down for that,” she added.