1. The nautical vibe
Tying the knot on board the SS Great Britain in Bristol was more than just an excuse for a boat party for couple Rich and Kat. “My dad and uncles have worked at the ship yards in Newcastle, and some of Rob’s ancestors worked on the Titanic, so the ship just seemed really cool and appropriate for us,’ Kat explains.
2. The eco credentials
‘When we first saw our venue, The Gillyflower at Elmore Court, it was just a meadow and a sketch, with plans for a sustainable and renewable building,” remember Vanessa and Matt. “It seemed so harmonious to build it from the materials found on the land’ – think roof made of meadow, rammed-earth walls – ‘and on the day the beauty blew everyone away.’
3. The outdoor ceremony
Dreaming of al fresco English ‘I do’s but finding the legalities tricky? ‘The rules are, you have to be in a licensed premise,’ explains Gail Thomas, wedding co-ordinator at Larmer Tree Gardens, ‘even if that’s just a roof over your heads. We have a Roman Temple licensed for just six people, but guests can be seated outside and enjoy the feel of an outdoor ceremony.’
4. The weekend takeover
There’s nothing like making a historic estate your own for a wedding weekend, as Kumari and Matthew discovered at Symondsbury Manor in Dorset. ‘We and 23 of our closest friends and family stayed from Friday to Sunday. On the day, the party moved between a marquee, the gardens, and the panelled ballroom inside for our afternoon tea and evening barbecue.’
5. The super-luxe chairs
There’s a whole industry devoted to fab furnishings to hire for weddings, but you’ll save money and time if your location is already stylishly appointed. So who has the best? Celebrity planner Mark Niemierko says the plush furnishings at Sketch in London need no upgrading. ‘The dining chairs in the Lecture Room add a wow feel.’
6. The creative planning
Venues often come with an on-site planner to help co-ordinate logistics but some take it to another level – like Laura Caudery at Fetcham Park. ‘She’s a magician,” enthuses bride Chloé. “She advised on everything from the caterers to the bridesmaids dresses, and I had emails from her whenever she thought of something else terrific for our day.’
To find out our other four favourite venues, pick up the September issue of You & Your Wedding – on sale now.