Wedding venues say ‘we do’ to virtual cash

Charlton Hall, near Alnwick. Picture by Marion Botella
Charlton Hall, near Alnwick. Picture by Marion Botella

A two-venue operator based in rural Northumberland is planning to accept payment for weddings in digital currency, bitcoin.

Doxford Barns and Charlton Hall, which opens in April 2018, both just north of Alnwick, are owned by entrepreneur Richard Shell, who is an investor in bitcoin and is beginning to accept the cryptocurrency payment in a bid to offer couples more convenient ways to pay.

This move will open up audience reach to a new international community as it becomes the first multi-venue operator in the UK to accept the virtual currency.

According to research from Cambridge University, there are approximately 5.8million users of cryptocurrency, the majority of whom use bitcoin. The average cost of a wedding at Doxford Barns equates to approximately 3.5 bitcoins or £15,000.

Shell said: “My enterprising personality naturally makes me want to bring something new and different to the table for the ventures I invest in. In this instance, I’m embracing technology and responding to emerging trends.

“Large companies have been accepting payment in cryptocurrency for years now and it’s becoming more commonplace to transact in this way. With online marketplaces also opening up their options, we need to embrace this movement if we’re serious about what we do.

“The market in which we operate has already seen clients pay for wedding suits and dresses in bitcoin, so by accepting the same, we’re improving our service and convenience in a way that positions our brand leaps ahead of the competition.”

As of July 2017, there were around 16.5million bitcoins in circulation and, in March 2017, the value of a bitcoin exceeded the value of an ounce of gold for the first time.

At the age of 25, Shell set up his first venture by renovating derelict farm buildings to develop Doxford Barns; an award-winning bohemian venue for exclusive hire on a 550-acre estate in Northumberland.

Shell’s ventures have attracted over 15,000 tourists to the rural area within 18 months. He is preparing for the launch of his second venue, Charlton Hall, a grade II listed 18th century former home near Alnwick.