So in my weddingy explorations so far, it seems that people seem to ‘just know’ they’ve chosen the right venue, in the same way they know they’ve found the right dress. Not so for us. We have gone round in circles about where to get married and what we want our day to be like. The basic idea has stayed relatively constant since we first got engaged, but the time of year, the geographical location, the ‘type’ of day to have and therefore the budget have varied quite a lot, before finally fixing the wedding we’re planning now.
There were a few things we knew we wanted:
• The ability to do things the way we wanted to.
• Somewhere to put some fete-style games.
• A venue that wasn’t too ‘weddingy’.
• Somwhere that we could afford.
I started researching venues pretty much straight away, only to struggle to find anywhere that was sufficiently un-weddingy. Helen plays in a string quartet at a lot of weddings in the midlands, and already knew that The Fleece Inn at Bretforton was a strong contender. The Fleece is a beautiful, medieval National Trust pub with an orchard and a barn licensed for civil ceremonies. In fact, I was taken on a Sunday afternoon date to the Fleece not long after we got together and was told by Helen that it’s where she always hoped to get married. I loved it, plus the food is delicious and they do lots of yummy ales and ciders. It’s also pretty much as un-weddingy as you can get! So, “why aren’t we getting married there?” I hear you cry. Well, there are quite a few reasons. One is that we wrote down our guest list and very quickly leapt over the 50 people capacity for ceremonies – even whilst trying to be relatively frugal! We didn’t really want to give ourselves massive dilemmas about who to invite, or who not to. The other main reason is budget-related. As we’re paying for most of the wedding ourselves we’ve said all along that we don’t want to spend too much money, especially as I’m still studying part-time and we might like to try and buy a house one day! The Fleece’s guide prices were very reasonable, but would have still meant us spending years saving up. We both also realised that whilst we would have had a lovely day, there are other things (like a house deposit) that such amounts of money could be better spent on.
So we started again (although always keeping The Fleece in the back of our minds). I started looking into ways we could do more of the wedding ourselves, so investigated village halls, giant holiday cottages and even a field! We even went and had a look at the field, only to discover it would cost as much to hire it (with not even a toilet to its name) as it would to hire an actual building. We still struggled to find anywhere that we liked, that wouldn’t end up costing just as much as getting a nice lady to do it. After various debates, Helen’s parents suggested we use their garden for part of the day. We started looking into places we could get married near Weymouth, with enough space for all the people we wanted to invite, that we liked and could afford. Oh, and that we could have a wedding in on a bank holiday Sunday, having worked out that that would be a day that the majority of our guests would be likely to be free. The Sunday-factor ruled out pretty much all the local registry offices. Helen was adamant she didn’t want to get married outside (she’s been made to play at too many inclement outdoor weddings I think) so that ruled out a couple more local venues. Finally, I remembered Kingston Maurward – a big country house that is now an agricultural college, animal farm and wedding venue. There’s a room, over-looking the lake, that’s big enough for everyone we want to come plus we could afford it, especially if our reception venue wasn’t too expensive. We contacted them to see if the date we wanted was free, only to discover someone else had already booked a reception on that date. As we knew we only wanted to hold our ceremony there, Helen was very cheeky and asked if there was any chance of fitting us in earlier in the day. To our amazement the answer was yes, if we had our ceremony at 12 noon. We (very quickly) weighed up the relative pros and cons of holding our wedding on a different date, having what feels like a fairly early ceremony, or finding somewhere else – and the early ceremony won.
Now we just needed to settle on where to have the party afterwards. Until relatively recently we planned to pop to Helen’s parents’ garden for a few hours in the afternoon so we were looking for somewhere walking distance away to have a hog roast and an evening party. There were a few possibilities and I entrusted Helen with the relevant research over the summer. In the end she chose her local village hall, which holds fond childhood memories for her of rehearsing for Preston Panto Kids. It’s not too picturesque but has got plenty of space, tables and chairs, a kitchen, a stage and is very definitely within budget. Add in the homely emotional attachment for Helen, and plenty of bunting and it seemed like we were on to a winner. She also had another look at the garden and decided it probably wouldn’t fit everyone in, and would make us very stressed, so we started making plans to have all the celebrations at the village hall.
Once we’d booked these everything else just seems to have fallen into place – we found a hog roast (very important), booked our friend’s band to come and play, my mum volunteered flowers and Helen’s parents offered to arrange someone to cater the afternoon tea. What has actually happened is that we have been able to find our own ways to plan the day how we want it, albeit not in the place we thought we wanted it. Obviously we haven’t actually had the wedding yet (and I might be telling a very different story in a few months time), but at the moment it all feels relatively under control and we’re both rather excited!