I came at this with absolutely no idea on where to start. When I advise others, they have quite formed views on what they are looking for, or if not, I am able to spend some time discussing the options and soon enough we have a clear winner, for a type of venue. For us, what did we want? Did we want a marquee? Did we want a barn? Did we want city or country? I went through every idea you could imagine, by this point we had a rough idea on guest numbers, we had a month, and a preferred date, and a better idea on our budget. We still seemed to have hundreds of wedding venues to choose from – there are so many beautiful venues on our doorstep in the home counties.
I spoke to tons of venues all over the area, figuring out availability, capacity and price point. We then decided the only way to narrow it down was to go and see them all. In my mind, everywhere I walked in I would fall in love with, and never want to leave because I felt so special. This reaffirmed how important a wedding consultant or planner can make the experience, as for them you are the centre of their attention, and they are keeping a rational head on. The venue search and selection should be an exciting time, and there should be some fizz and treats along the way, which you can always expect with Mrs T… The variety of venues we visited was impressive, they included:
- A hotel in Bedfordshire
- A manor house with marquee in Bedfordshire
- A central London hotel
- A converted barn in the Cotswolds
- A Museum in Oxford
- A country house in Surrey
- An English Heritage property in Bedfordshire
- A University in Surrey
They all had some sentimental value or the location was perfect for us, with the exception of Cripps Barn in the Cotswolds. I only really looked at Cripps Barn as they seemed to be so focused on amazing food, and I am a bit of a foodie. As we drove down the iconic Cotswold lanes to Cripps Barn, my fiancé was commenting (read whinging) why we were going into the depths of the countryside and totally out of the way. He kept mentioning that it wouldn’t be as good as his favourite venue, which we had seen previously, with me patiently advising we were just going to take a quick look, and if he didn’t want to come in I could leave him in the car. He begrudgingly started to sit up a bit as we came down the drive and his frown started to melt away to the face of a young pup who has just fallen in love. Rob and I fell for Cripps Barn just as quickly as we fell in love with each other. We knew it had to be Cripps Barn, and as fate would have it they had our date available, one of their last available Saturdays of the following summer.
As we drove home from Cripps Barn late afternoon that day, both of us were glowing with the same feelings as when we first met each other in Ibiza. We had just found the place we were going to get married. We felt as if there was magic in the air.