Venue Hunting – The Runners-Up
Once we had discussed the pros and cons of various prospective venues, A Man and I decided to look round a few places around Easter-time last year (right around when I should have been revising for finals…). Some of the organisers seemed surprised that we were viewing venues quite so early, but we had our reasons. As I have previously mentioned, I am super-organised about things like this and don’t feel comfortable until things are Sorted (with a definite capital S!). There were also few occasions when we could both look around places while we were both at university, and we wanted a specific date, on a Saturday, in the middle of summer. We didn’t tell our parents that we were going to look at venues, simply because we didn’t want to have an influx of opinions! We decided that it would be far easier to look around, book the place and then let our parents know when and where we would be getting married. We only looked around 5 places, having already ruled out various others for different reasons, and the Longhouse was an immediate ‘No’. Before I write a post gushing about the venue we ended up choosing, here are our 3 runners-up.
A 13th Century Manor set in spectacular grounds, we were really impressed by the drive down to the main house. There is a beautiful pergola where you can dine al fresco, surrounded by gorgeous greenery and plenty of space for the guests to explore. The house itself contains an impressive ballroom and many rooms, each with their own distinct feel. There were a couple of reasons we decided not to go for Maunsel. First, it was out of our budget. Second, although we loved the grounds, the décor of the house itself was not at all to our taste, and a wedding there could not have felt like our wedding. The walls were covered in hunting trophies, which made it feel more like a gentlemen’s country club than a reception venue and we agreed that we would ultimately have felt embarrassed about having our friends and family there. The lady who showed us round was brilliant though, and we could tell that anyone who chose to get married at Maunsel House would be very well looked after.
When we went to visit Rookery Manor, the first thing we noticed was how close to the major roads it is. This is, of course, great in terms of people getting there. However, it was already missing that little bit of magic on the approach that the other venues had. The grounds are very well laid out, and the hotel itself is perfectly geared for hosting weddings – there are two large ballrooms which provide tons of space, and would be perfect for the number of guests we had in mind. The two rooms are very differently set up: the first is draped from the ceiling with fabric in the style of a marquee. The second is much more sleek in its appearance. Everything was impeccably clean and smart, but somehow it just didn’t feel right. The packages offered were more expensive than we wanted and offered more than we needed, the lady who showed us round was a little on the pushy side and seemed like a factory-fit wedding – very little in the way of individuality. Besides, quite a few people we know had already attended weddings there (so it wouldn’t have the initial wow factor for them) and being able to hear the motorway the whole time we were there was a deal-breaker for A Man.
Hestercombe Gardens is a collection of gardens (no way!) which are open to the public. Neither of us had been before, but I would thoroughly recommend going to spend an afternoon to have a look around – it’s beautiful, and there are so many areas of the grounds which feel so different to one another. We had a whistle-stop tour of the Gardens’ wedding locations with their wedding co-ordinator Julie. I would just like to take a moment to say how fantastic she is! No bullshit, no evasive action, and she obviously loves her job. She gave us tips to take away with us and specifically told us things to bear in mind, wherever we ended up getting married. We also had lunch in the café and it was brilliant – definitely the best beef salad I have eaten in my life. I would absolutely recommend Hestercombe again and again. The reasons we decided against it? Its beauty is entirely based in the gardens, so if the weather is crap we would miss out on all of that brilliant space; the gardens would also be open to the public on our wedding day; and there are no rooms. Hestercombe is only about a half hour drive from both sets of parents’ houses, and going back to stay at my mum and dad’s house was not the vision I had for my wedding night!
What were the pros and cons of the different venues you looked at? Did you have to wrestle with yourself to be able to choose one?