By Emma George, Nov 3 2015 01:12PM
This time of year is one for reflection, for looking back over the summer just gone and taking stock of all that's happened, for reliving memories and celebrating successes. One of our most memorable events this year is an unusual one. We often organise parties to celebrate weddings but back at the start of the year we received an unexpected request. A couple contacted us to organise their divorce party.
The remit was simple: a weekend-long summer party for all their friends and family to give thanks for all that was good about their relationship and celebrate new beginnings. Rather than dwell on grievances and regrets they wanted to acknowledge the passing of something which had enhanced both their lives for some years but which they both now realised was no longer working. Quite simply, they wanted to part as friends.
We realised quite quickly that our clients were fun-loving people with a sense of adventure who loved to party. They had been keen festival-goers in their youth (although they are still quite young, relatively speaking) and they still set aside a couple of weekends a year to go to their favourite festivals. It wasn't difficult, therefore, to come up with the idea of a mini-festival themed party and we soon got to work on the planning.
The venue was simple – our clients had some friends who would let them use their land on Dartmoor in Devon, comprising two gently sloping meadows complete with a small woodland area and natural spring. While our clients busied themselves compiling a guest list, we set about putting the framework of the event in place. Marquees were hired, along with two stages, one for music and one for other entertainment. Musicians, comedians, circus and cabaret performers were contacted and signed up for the event. Portaloos, health and safety and security came next. It was a surprisingly complex event to organise, with many things we don't normally have to consider, such as talking to the neighbouring farmer about how to minimise stress to his sheep!
With the lineup for the weekend finalised, bar and caterers booked and invites out, we still felt that something was missing. A bit of brainstorming soon flagged it up – no summer party could be complete without a beach, which is quite a challenge when you're in the middle of Dartmoor!
Not to be daunted we set about solving the problem. We would make our own beach.
We had several tons of sand delivered and spread it out along the bank of the stream running down from the spring. Pots of various grasses flanked the edge along with wheelbarrow-loads of large beach pebbles and we set out deck chairs and parasols along with some buckets and spades, a set of boules and some beachballs. We even put a concealed sound system in a large bit of driftwood, playing a loop soundtrack of waves and the occasional seagull.
When all was in place, just before sunset on the Friday we sat at the top of the camping field (where the level ground was!) looking down through the tents, past the beach, into the main field, which was slowly filling up as guests arrived. With mini-lanterns strung around the edge of the whole site, a couple of fires burning, the glow from the marquees and strains of music, chatter and laughter drifting up the hill it looked and sounded like fairyland and we felt a huge sense of a job well done.
The only thing left to do was enjoy the party!
The whole weekend was a huge success. The weather played a large part – it was a glorious weekend, one of the few this year when even the evenings were warm. Everything went according to plan with not even so much as one last-minute emergency. Over 250 people laughed, danced and played from Friday evening till Sunday afternoon
As we sit here warming our toes by our late-autumn fire, drinking the first mulled wine of the year, we raise a glass to this brave couple, who dared to do something different, who turned what is often seen as a difficult life event into a celebration of what is positive.
We also raise a glass to ourselves for running such a successful event.