This question is the big one! Your venue selection is arguably the most important decision of your whole wedding planning experience. It determines as many of the practicalities of your day – location, accommodation, capacity – as it does the stylistic elements.
I love venue searches. Finding the right space for a couple that will suit their style and personality, and prove to be just the right sort of canvas on which they can express their love story is always a challenge, but it’s one that brings huge rewards.
If you’re at the beginning of your wedding planning journey and feeling a little overwhelmed with all the choice that’s out there, this post should help. Today I’m looking at a range of different countryside venue types, and some of my favourite examples of each.
THE COUNTRY HOUSE
The UK does elegant country manor houses like no other. If you’re looking for a signature English venue, nestling in gorgeous grounds, including sumptuous accommodation onsite and boasting a wealth of period features, then a country house wedding might well be the right choice for you. There’s an enormous range of options available throughout the country – from majestic lakeside properties to opulent historical gems set in acres of sweeping lawns – here are some of my absolute favourites.
This stunner of a Yorkshire venue gives you an incredible amount of choice. Not only is the main house resplendent in gold sandstone, hand painted wall papers, beautifully cared for antiques and the sort of sweeping staircase that Hollywood starlets can only dream of, if you take a walk in the gardens, you’ll find a hidden treasure in the form of The Fig House. This beautifully restored summerhouse is a second licensed venue on the Middleton Lodge Estate, and its exposed brickwork, beams and huge windows make it the perfect for a rustic luxe wedding. Which incredible option will you choose?
I love this venue – you can get totally lost in celebration here, and the service is flawless and flexible. It’s got history, elegance, romance and panache in spades.
Babington is part of the Soho House family. In the heart of rural Somerset, it describes itself as ‘a very big house in the country’ – a work of marketing genius, if you ask me! Set in 18 acres of beautiful grounds including a lake and a walled garden, this beautiful manor house is yours on an exclusive hire basis.
Babington House is perfect for a spot of serious pre-wedding pampering, its on-site spa looks out over the gardens and offers a full range of relaxing treatments to help you ease away any pre-wedding jitters and glide down the aisle. There’s a range of stunning ceremony options, including an 18th Century church in the grounds, and when it comes time to celebrate, you’ve got the run of the house – including a cinema – with no curfew and no noise limitation. This is an elegant house that knows how to party!
I have to start by talking about the bedrooms at Elmore Court. Not only are there lots of them (there’s room to accommodate up to 23 guests in the sumptuous manor house), but each one is simply spectacular. Think oaken four posters dating back centuries, enormous Caesar sized beds and luxurious decor (freestanding copper bath and velvet curtains, anyone?)
Elmore Court has been in the Guise family for 750 and is clearly a real labour of love. This Cotswold venue is a period gem with a modern sensibility – it’s self sustainable, running on biomass heating, with ‘grow to order’ catering available from the kitchen garden.
In the grounds, you’ll find the jaw dropping Gillyflower – a ‘super marquee’ made of rammed earth and timber. This state of the art space is both eco conscious and opulent, bringing a luxury festival vibe to this country house estate.
Gone are the days when barn weddings inevitably equalled hessian table runners and lace wrapped jam jars. There are some seriously luxurious, contemporary barn options out there that serve as design-led canvases for those of you looking to style a rustic wedding with modern flair. Feast your eyes on these barn beauties to get your search started.
It’s a barn, but not as you know it! Set in glorious Oxfordshire countryside, these converted hay barns are spectacularly light, modern and beautifully designed. I adore the floor to ceiling windows, sensitive design details and flexibility of space. The log fires add a cosy, homely touch which I just love, and reinforce the balance of luxury design and charmingly twinkly atmosphere.
The Grade II listed farmhouse on the property is available to hire so you can get ready in luxurious comfort, and it sleeps up to 10 people.
This multi-award winning barn venue has just been named countryside venue of the year at the Wedding Industry Awards. It gives an amazing mixture of old and new on one site, with its 200 year old Tythe barn and accomodation (think timber frames, high ceilings and oodles of character) and the New Barn, which features chandeliers that have won an international design award!
The team here understand that a barn wedding can still be opulent, and the neutral decor of the oak and timber beamed spaces mean you can really get creative with your wedding day styling.
Another Oxfordshire gem, Stratton Court are masters of rustic charm. I am in love with the Main Barn here, which can seat 80 guests, but manages to remain a really intimate, welcoming space. There’s something about the pale stonework, vaulted ceiling and beams that makes it a bit magical, and it’s the perfect space for a statement lighting or floral installation. The ideal canvas for decor with wow factor!
If you’re dreaming of an outdoor ceremony, then the courtyard is also licensed, allowing you to say your vows framed by the barn doors as your guests look on. There are some absolutely beautiful private gardens on site here, too, which are available for use for your couple’s portraits, and will guarantee some incredible images of you as a newly minted married couple.
There are some venues out there that defy categorisation. Quirky conversions, historical landmarks, vast open spaces and decadent design details – if uniqueness is the deciding factor in your venue choice, then I salute you. The UK offers the option to get married in an array of unusual locations. Think lighthouses, steam railway stations, windmills, cinemas or Victorian swimming baths. Here are three of my favourite unusual venues that guarantee that little something extra for your big day.
This place is pure magic and I’m struggling to adequately put it into words. The vast Suffolk estate stretches almost 5,000 acres, and is dotted with cottages, farmhouses, barns and follies which in total can sleep up to 100 guests.
You can hold your ceremony in the drawing room of the estate’s lakeside Georgian country manor house, Sibton Park, then move the party out into the estate and its orangery, terraces, lakeshore and parkland. There are just so many options here to make your wedding the most luxuriously wonderful playground and build incredible memories. One of my favourite spaces has to be the Walled Garden – dubbed ‘Britain’s coolest party pad’ by The Sunday Times. These three glasshouses boast sumptuous bedrooms, hot tubs, saunas, swimming pool, cinema and games room.
This is a country house with a taste for the extraordinary, and it needs little in the way of introduction. Huge spaces, sweeping stairs, hundreds of acres of gardens designed by Capability Brown, and many hidden rooms and snug corners for creating the event of a lifetime.
The real uniqueness here though, comes from the stunningly zany decorative details. This is the fabled home of a taxidermy giraffe floating up to the ceiling on giant white balloons, enormous disco balls capable of casting star shimmers across a vast space, and its very own unicorn.
It takes something pretty special to combine traditional English Regency splendour with tranquil Asian inspired influences. But the Matara Centre does it with effortless flair. Set in beautifully designed parkland and gardens and featuring three lakes, a Chinese formal garden, a cloistered courtyard and an incredible domed dining space, this Gloucestershire venue is serenity and sparkle in equal measure.
To give a flavour of how much the team here will go the extra mile for their couples, a tree is planted and dedicated to each couple tying the knot here. It’s a wonderful gesture with just the right amount of quirkiness to it and I love it!
So there you have it, I hope you’ve enjoyed our round up of favourite countryside wedding venues. Stay tuned for the City Edition coming in the next few weeks!