One of the great things in our relationship is that Dean and I have the same taste in design. We are both country bumpkins with a love of rustic, the outdoors, and we both have expensive taste! Having always had quite open discussions about our future wedding, we knew our decor preferences would translate.

One of the options we had to consider was which side of the ocean to get married on; my mum is American and my Dad is English, and with family on both sides the option was open. The guaranteed weather pull was strong, and we did look online at a few venues we should consider; the common denominator was they were all outside. Why would we travel over 5000 miles to then stay indoors? After considering a variety of factors including finances and the health of family members, we made the decision to stay in the UK. All of the venues we began to eliminate had no outside space; it became clear that no matter where we chose, it had to have the option of an outside ceremony space and garden space for guests to mingle afterwards. Yes we are brave prioritising this in the UK!

outside

Having both lived in a converted barn for a number of years, the venues we were automatically drawn to were similar. Wood, stone, exposed brick, and in the middle of nowhere tended to be the order of the day! This was where we felt comfortable and at ease; stately homes are gorgeous but just not for us. We fondly like to think we want a glorified garden party in the day!

We have now viewed 8 venues: whether this is a lot, normal, or not enough I don’t know, but this is where our search has lead us. This includes converted barns, a historical home, a hotel, and a 16th Century Country Inn. We did try to go outside of our brief to keep our eyes open, but in the end gut feeling won over us every time.

Caswell-outside
One of our shortlist: Caswell House (www.caswellhouse.co.uk)

Again, our views on each venue have been surprisingly consistent with each other and although making the ultimate choice doesn’t seem easy, agreeing on a mutual result does. Last week we visited a venue on the recommendation of Andrea, the Ellie Sanderson Oxford Boutique Manager. Without time to make an appointment, we decided to just turn up and get a natural feel for the venue. We weren’t expecting any input from an employee, we just wanted to have a quick look to see if it fit our brief. Having introduced ourselves on arrival so as not to just snoop around, we received a very warm welcome and a private tour resulting in complimentary drinks whilst browsing a wedding album at our undisturbed leisure.

outside-swan-1

Sideways glances between Dean and I and large smiles soon gave away our satisfaction with the venue. Having seen the stunning outside ceremony gardens and the evening reception building, a stone built Malt House overlooking the River Windrush, we knew we had found it. And when I was told I could hang fairy lights and lanterns in the trees above… well you can only imagine my reaction! This has got to be “IT!”

swan-wedding-outside

The only compromise we will have to make is our guests numbers; the comfortable amount for the wedding breakfast is around 30 people less than we had originally put on our guest list. Despite this, we hoped we could make the venue work and we would be surrounded by our close friends and family for the ceremony. In the evening, the party guests can arrive and we can share our special day with them too.

That afternoon I managed to think of a million-and-one questions I should have asked, so we have booked another visit for this Sunday to show my parents the venue and speak with the events manager before the ultimate decision is made. Keep your fingers crossed for us…

Until next time,

Acacia X

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