Andrea Petrou writes:Everyone has a dream location for their wedding. Some love the hustle and bustle of London and other city hotels, choosing to have their photos taken in nearby parks as a serene contrast to the busyness of the location and capture the romance of the day. Others may choose to have a hot exotic destination with a beach and (if they have nice flat stomachs) bikini theme.
Then there are others who choose to have their big day in Blur’s words “a great big house (well hotel in some cases) in the country”.
Read on for Bridalwave’s top ten country wedding venues!
Best for Wag Wannabes: The Grove
Host to the Ryder Cup in 2006 and a favourite with footballers – telling your other half this may just swing this venue – this 18th Century mansion is a mix of old and contemporary. It has a sweeping driveway that takes you over green grounds and a river with canal boats – yes you can arrive on one of these. Wag wannabes can also opt for a helicopter entrance. The Amber Room will suit those that are planning a big do, think my Big Fat Greek Wedding, holding up to 480 for dinner or 420 for dinner and a dance floor. The Ivory room is a bit more cosy seating 120 people for dinner and 80 with a dance floor.
To find out more contact the wedding team on 01923 296020 or email
Located in 200 acres of Hertfordshire parkland, and home to the PGA Championship Golf Course, this Jacobean country house is perfect for those who want a relatively small wedding. It seats up to 120 people for a sit down or buffet dinner and ceremony. If you don’t want your guests to get bored while you and your other half pose like super models for the photographer, then the Summer House, overlooking the lawns of the Walled Garden could be the perfect place to keep your guests until they sit down for dinner. With such a gorgeous view and flowing champagne we’re sure no one will complain about waiting around and it may also keep your uncle/father in law/Dad from sneakily disappearing for a game on the golf course. Call 01920 487 722 for more information.
Set half an hour’s drive from Gatwick, this venue is a perfect location for those flying from this airport to their honeymoon. Add to this the picturesque lake and acres of parkland the hotel situated in the Ashdown Countryside, is ideal for couples who want to get away from it all without being too much in the sticks. The hotel is licensed to carry out civil ceremonies and you can choose between the converted chapel or the summerhouse overlooking the lake.
The secret gardens with streams as well as the surrounding woodlands, also offer a perfect hideaway if making small talk with unknown aunties, uncles or cousins get too much for you. The hotel caters for a minimum of 80 to 160 guests. Call 01342 824988 for more details.
Best for a stylish knees-up: Leez Priory
Set in rural Essex, this beautiful Tudor Mansion shows this county has a lot more to offer than Southend and with a venue like this we hope their won’t be a white stiletto in sight. The hotel stands in 40 acres of parkland, complete with lakes, lawns and a sweeping driveway. For brides that like that little bit more choice, civil ceremonies can be performed in one of five licensed settings including the Great Tower. The Great Hall can seat up to 80 guests for the wedding breakfast and the newly converted Coach House can seat up to 110 guests. However, the cherry on top of this wedding venue is the hidden cottage within the grounds for the Bride and Bridesmaids to stay in the night before the big day. Think big girly adult sleepover with few bottles of wine.
Call 01245 362 555 for more information.
Best for nature lovers: St Audries Park
Wildlife lovers will go doe eyed over this venue, which is situated within 100 acres of tranquil deer park. And the other views aren’t bad either with the hotel overlooking Somerset’s Quantock Hills as well as the Bristol Channel. The hotel, which looks to us like a miniature version of Windsor castle, plus the royal banqueting hall, will make wannabe princesses feel like royalty. It can seat up to 130 guests for the wedding breakfast. Now we’re not sure if this is becoming a country celebration trend but this hotel also has a hidden cottage in its grounds. We repeat, grab the wine and gather the girls. Call 01984 633 633 or email [email protected] for more information.
We couldn’t write about country venues without having the traditional marquee option and Oakley Hall fits into this category perfectly. The mansion, which is set in 315 acres of gorgeous manicured gardens, offers couples a choice of six rooms that have been licensed to hold Civil Ceremonies, each accommodating up to 75 guests. Once the formalities have been taken care of you can entertain up to 300 guests in the marquee adjoined to the main building meaning no portaloos or wellies are required. And this marquee is no standard tent with the option to lift the panels onto a patio area for a BBQ or just as additional mingling space. For more information call 01256 783350 or email: [email protected]
MacDonald Tickled Trout Hotel, Preston
Although the name of this hotel may tickle your guests, there’s nothing comical about the rest of it. Set on the banks of the River Ribble, just a short drive from the centre of Preston, the hotel offers a gorgeous venue for those that want those extra special pictures. Couples can pose by the waterside or meander into the grounds. We love the idea of sharing your special wedding dinner, complete with a BBQ, with up to ten guests on the riverside terrace. However those who have a few more friends can opt for one of the hotels suites. We particularly love the Ribble Suite with full-length windows on one wall and views across the River Ribble, which can cater from 60 to 150 guests. For more information call the events team 0844 879 9053.
Best for Jane Austen dreamers: Muddifords Court
Couples who wish to be the Lord and Lady on their wedding day will love Muddifords Court in Devon. The country estate plays host to a Georgian house, which we’re sure we’ve seen in a few period films, and is licensed for civil ceremony/partnership marriages. As well as 14 acres of green gardens, views include a lake and a cobbled square courtyard, complete with a cider house with working apple press. Just make sure your groom doesn’t make this his permanent place during your wedding day.
For more information call 01884 829019
Best known for its gorgeous spa facilities, this ivy covered, 19th century Mansion house will also give you that relaxing wedding day you have always wanted. Refurbished in 2008 the hotel has a stunning backdrop in 120 acres of landscape gardens, with a picturesque waterfall, lily ponds and fountains, certainly a venue that will wow your guests. Add to the wow factor even more by arriving by helicopter. The hotel, which can cater for 180 guests, is also the perfect place to relax in before the day and make use of the spa facilities. Just make sure your other half doesn’t catch you with a face mask on. Green faced brides to be caked in mud are really not an attractive look.
Contact Jodi Smith; 01276 478449 for more information.
A country challenge
A stately home is a gorgeous place for your wedding day but we have found something that little bit more challenging for the adventurous bride and groom. Scattered around the country are acres and acres of beautiful gardens and fields, some owned by the queen, which can be hired out for your special day. St Pauls Waldenbury is just one of the many examples here. Near Hitchin in Hertfordshire these royal owned gardens, which are said to be the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother have gorgeous scenery. This includes a long, runway style lawn and gazebo, where your service can be carried out. However, brides will have to arrange everything else independently including the marquee (the grounds can cater for one up to 800 people) caterers and vicars for the service, not to mention toilet facilities. Hard work but with views like this, we can guarantee it will be worth it.
Call 01244 571208 for more information.