Today, I thought I would share my story of finding a venue for my own wedding last year. As a Wedding Planner, and prior to that an Events Manager for a 5 star boutique hotel company in London, I've seen many beautiful wedding venues throughout the UK so have been really lucky in that respect. My standards are particularly high when viewing new venues, when dining out, when staying at a hotel, going on holiday, or... well, you get the idea! Some might say a little fussy, but I know what luxury stands for and what simply doesn't make the cut.
Great customer service is pretty much at the top of my list of priorities for any experience I have, but particularly for where I wanted to get married. We also knew we didn't want somewhere which operates solely as a wedding venue with upwards of 80 weddings a year, and wanted somewhere quirky, with that personal touch - somewhere where the staff would remember you each time you went back. We didn't want to have a Church ceremony as neither of us have ever been religious, so we were on the hunt for a venue with a Civil Ceremony licence.
There are two super important factors to consider before commencing your search for a venue: your budget and guest numbers. There's nothing worse than finding your dream venue, only to realise its grossly over budget or cannot accommodate all of your guests. We had a guest list of about 70 guests for the day, and an additional 30 or so for the evening.
We live in Oxfordshire, and are in love with the picturesque countryside. Oxfordshire is also the perfect central location for many; as it's within easy reach of London, the surrounding counties, and the South. Our guests would be coming mainly from London, but also from Nottinghamshire and Dorset. I made a shortlist of my favourite venues in and around Oxford, which included The Tythe Barn at Launton, Caswell House, Hedsor House, Sheepdrove Farm and Stoke Place. I consider all of these to be gorgeous wedding venues, but I hadn't previously considered anywhere for our own wedding. All of these venues are in country locations; some with a rustic charm and others with a more grandeur status. We went to view all of them together, and whilst all were lovely, none had the 'wow factor' when I was imagining myself getting married there. I don't know what I was expecting to happen when we saw the perfect one - perhaps a Cinderella moment, but I just didn't get that. I wanted to feel like when I viewed our new house for the first time - excited about the opportunities it would provide, and seeing a vision of ideas that we could bring to life.