Whether you’re a bride-to-be, a mother of… or have somehow got yourself roped into planning someone else’s wedding (how saintly!), don’t book anything until you’ve read our comprehensive guide to the most gorgeous, dreamy venues in England. With Muddy editors scattered far and wide across our green and pleasant land, we’ve put our heads together and collated the best from each county. So, go browse, or, if you already know which area you want, choose the relevant county just below… Now, excuse me, I’m off to buy a hat. (I am invited, right?)
Ufton Court, Ufton Nervet
Historic, relaxed and romantic, Ufton Court is a very special place to get hitched. This secluded bucolic wedding venue is set in 16 acres between Reading and Newbury. Sweep down the oak-tree lined drive and discover the magnificent Grade-I listed manor with its grand fireplaces, and secret priest holes (a nod to its Catholic past), but it’s the 16th century tithe barn (registered for ceremonies) – a blank canvas of exposed beams and stone floors – that is ‘the one’. This is the perfect country wedding venue with rustic touches and oodles of places for Pinterest-worthy pics, including a whimsical swing and sunken garden. Before you get sticker shock, Ufton Court uses the money from weddings to improve the lives of disadvantaged kids through its educational trust. Warm and fuzz, right there.
Silchester House, Silchester
We’ve struck ‘I do’ gold. Looking for English Country romance, stylish interiors, stunning gardens and countryside views, in an intimate exclusive-use wedding venue? Yatzi! It’s right here at Silchester House on the Berkshire/ Hampshire border. This creamy dreamy Victorian manor is the ultimate party house. Invite up to 92 guests for an indoor ceremony in the Music Room (180 during the evening reception), then spill out into the different reception rooms and relax (or crank up choons). If you’ve your heart set on a al fresco ‘I dos’, the gazebo and pristine lawn is registered for weddings too. Best news yet? You and your wedding party are in staggering distance of the four-poster bridal suite and further 13 boutique bedrooms. What’s not to love?
The Extras …
Wedding venue sorted, it’s the individual touches that make your big day unique. One of the coolest florists I’ve ever met is Hannah of Saint Floral. With a background in fine art and fashion, her style is romantic, full of blowsy blooms and wild foliage that has a hint of the Dutch Masters. When she’s not creating her floral masterpieces for brides, she’s creating bouquets for Jo Malone London. Need a marquee with a wow? Red Crest Events, run by husband and wife team James and Abbey, provide boutique tents with a choice of beautiful handprinted linings imported from India. Better still, they’ll also take the hassle out of hosting by project managing your bash, leaving you to pamper, preen and drink fizz. Finally the cake. We’ve had fruit, sponge and naked cakes, but it’s time the to ditch the tiers for the thoroughly modern macaron. The Real Macaron Company creates gorgeous towers (with a sponge for the Nans, if you need it) that are totally unique to you and your style.
Notley Abbey, near Thame
If Notley Abbey is romantic enough for Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh to call home, it’s romantic enough for your wedding, I reckon. This stunning country house, on the Bucks/Oxon border and 20 minutes from both Oxford and Aylesbury, has seen an eclectic stream of the famous, from Henry VIII to Marilyn Monroe, walking its 13th century corridors. Available on an exclusive use hire basis, this historic wedding venue has gone through several years worth of renovation, with its beautiful old brickwork and sweeping driveway providing the requisite romance. Depending on guest list numbers, your ceremony can be held in The Abbot’s Hall or the stone barn Monks’ Refectory, which can also cater for 190 guests seated for a wedding banquet and up to 250 guests for an evening reception. For summer weddings, the Walled Garden Nook is registered for weddings if you want to feel the love outside instead. There’s in-house catering, online and personal wedding planner, live music on offer and even fireworks to end the night sky high. No need to leave the venue either at the end of the night – there’s a four-poster bridal suite and further eight bedrooms.
Danesfield House Hotel, Marlow
This exquisite Grade II listed, late Victorian country house hotel certainly has the wedding wow-factor – George Clooney had his wedding party (well, one of them!) with Amal here in 2014. Set in 65 acres, taking in Italian gardens and a croquet lawn, with views of the Thames, it’s midway between Henley and Marlow, and a 30 minute whizz from London. They offer a range of flexible wedding packages, with spaces to suit from 5 guests up to 200. The Versailles suite is the show-stopper – as the name suggests it’s big on palatial splendour, with its lofty ceilings, elegant mirrors and crystal chandeliers. And your wish is their command, whether you want a magician to entertain your guests, bespoke stationery or your wedding make-up sorted. Plus if you’re worried that you’re turning into Bridezilla (*the pressure, the pressure*), go chill in the spa, it’s a corker.
The Dairy at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury
One of the prettiest spots for a wedding in Bucks, Waddeson Manor’s beautiful Dairy nestles in a tranquil waterside setting amongst glorious gardens. Waddesdon Manor itself is the National Trust’s ‘jewel in the crown’, an extravagant chateau created for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild just outside Aylesbury in the late Nineteenth Century, and the country retreat of the Rothschild family for 100 years. Ceremonies for up to 110 guests can be held outside in the courtyard garden, or on the romantic lakeside pavilions. Inside, the Wintergarden with its spectacular views of the water gardens, or the West Hall with its vaulted ceiling and stone fireplaces provide the perfect setting for a wedding breakfast. This being Waddesdon, there’s no shortage of fantastic Rothschild wine and a bespoke, local and seasonal menu.
We are massive fans of Bucks Make-Up Studio, based in Wendover, for all your blushing bride needs – Tamsin there has regularly spruced up Muddy mugs for events and she also happens to be the lead make-up artist for the likes of Emily Blunt, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman and Rachel Weiss! Paul Wilkinson Photography is a superb snapper and highly experienced when it comes to weddings – I love him so much he took my official Muddy portrait on the homepage (and I definitely didn’t wake up like that). Talking of photos, if you’re looking for a dash of retro quirkiness for the reception, check out Beryl Vintage Caravan, which doubles up as a photobooth, which all your guests will pretend they don’t want to go into… until they’ve had 3 glasses of champagne and then you won’t get them out. With over 10 years experience of floral arrangement, Herbert & Isles are sticklers for transforming a venue and creating stunning bouquets to suit your individual whims and fancies. For your dress, bomb down to Beaconsfield and the chic, friendly Elie Sanderson Bridal Boutique, and if you fancy a holiday after all that organising – and who wouldn’t? – get onto Turquoise Holidays pronto for 5 star luxury honeymoons. Don’t forget to send us a postcard.
The Willow Tree, Bourn
You’ll meet your prince charming for sure at the enchanting Willow Tree. This fairytale wedding venue is tucked away in the village of Bourn, which you’ll find midway between St Neots and Cambridge. The Willow Tree has an informal vintage vibe about it – its unusual layout offers flexibility to create the day of your dreams, either inside or out – or both. There’s an elegant shabby chic restaurant, with an open fireplace and antique chandeliers so it’s cosy and intimate in winter. There’s also an al fresco terrace, a beautiful country garden with its own Tipi and large fire-pit, and a whimsical meadow at the back. The latter is a relatively new addition to the venue and is an idyllic spot to host a large gathering or erect a party marquee. If you want somewhere to host a civil ceremony (The Willow Tree can conduct a blessing) then its little sister The Eltisley, in nearby Eltisley, has a license for the whole shebang.
Orchard Tea Gardens, Grantchester
The Orchard Tea Gardens in Grantchester offers a slice of quintessential England and if you’re planning a wedding it’s a blank canvas that offers endless possibilities. Grantchester is a pretty village located a few miles outside Cambridge and The Orchard is famous for attracting many a literary luminary from Virginia Woolf and poet Rupert Brooke, to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. More recently the village has become known for the vicar-turned-sleuth hit ITV series, Grantchester This old orchard provides a perfect backdrop for a vintage wedding – whether you love 1930’s Art Deco, a homespun 1940’s look or a more modern boho festival feel. Outside there’s heaps of space under the apple trees and The Pavilion (named after the original building) provides an indoor area with doors opening onto the gardens. Although there isn’t any accommodation in the small village (there are three watering holes however!) it’s only a short drive into Cambridge, which offers a bed for the night to suit most budgets.
If only planning a wedding was a simple as booking a venue. It could be if you enlist the help of Vanessa from Rocks & Frocks, a specialist wedding and events planner. She can help with small intimate affairs to large extravaganzas and will stop you from going slightly crazy. I made the mistake at my wedding of not having an official wedding photographer and it’s a regret that I’ll have for the rest of my life. Caroline Ann Photography will ensure you’ll get beautiful memories of your day and she offers an optional engagement shoot also. How about wowing your guests with 5ft giant illuminated lettering to add some pizazz to your day – it could be the bride and groom’s initials or highlighting the dance floor or the bar? Don’t forget the barnet! Syrupp Hair in Buckden will plan your hair well in advance if you have the time, and the bride can either come to the salon or a stylist will travel to your home or hotel, whichever suits you best. Finally book Health Close and Beauty to make sure your wedding makeup is professionally done – they have all the tricks of the trade to make sure it lasts for the duration of the day and will advise you on colour choices.
Fancy boats bobbing in a Cornish harbour as the backdrop for your big day? Hello Amélies Porthleven! This gorgeous fishing village is a foodie mecca and Amélies, housed in an old smokehouse, is one of the most popular restaurants in town. Owner Sam coordinates the weddings personally; she’s really creative and has loads of ideas for menus, drinks and quirky touches but it’s absolutely not about packages — every wedding is unique. The venue is licensed for ceremonies and can accommodate up to 70 guests in the main restaurant, while the new glass-covered terrace is perfect for drinks and mingling. There are loads of places to stay in the village, so there’s no need for taxis and you’ll run into guests all weekend. For photos, the harbour, slipway, beach and cliff-tops offer up lots of stunning options.
Nancarrow Farm, Zelah, Nr Truro
The ultimate in rustic chic, Nancarrow Farm is one of Cornwall’s most sought-after wedding venues. This working farm is nestled in rolling countryside, not far from Truro — great for train links and accommodation for any up-country guests. In the heart of the farm is a cluster of beautiful, renovated barns that offer a self-contained events space, where you can relax and feel at home for the course of your celebrations. There’s a light-filled, oak-beamed barn for dining, which seats up to 130, an atmospheric hay barn for your ceremony and a luxe B&B, with accommodation for 18 guests (plus a few more in 4 furnished bell tents). Bur for me, the best thing about Nancarrow is the food. Expect a feast incorporating the farm’s own organic meat, cooked slow over the outdoor fireplace.
Trefusis Estate, Nr Falmouth
An amazing find for boho brides! Wedding venues don’t get more magical than a sunny glade in an ancient bluebell wood. Part of the grounds of Trefusis Estate near Falmouth, the woodland backs onto fields that overlook Mylor harbour. One of the fields is available for wild camping, if your guests are so inclined and furnished bell tents can be arranged. The wedding feast is served in weather-proof tipis (so much cooler than a marquee), with a fire pit in the centre and a converted airstream for a bar. Weddings here are managed by Hailey at Little Cornish Wedding Company and she has Cornwall’s best suppliers on speed dial to help bring your day together — from woodfired soul food to foraged floral arrangements. Up to a week’s hire of a luxury cottage on the estate is also thrown into the bargain.
Now you’ve got the venue sorted, you’ll need a few artistes to take care of the extras. Like your drinks sparkling? Get a truckload, from vintage prosecco van, Bring Me Bubbles. If cocktails and craft beer are more your flavour, call The Buffalo Bar. When it comes to food, look up Woodfired Weddings for hearty, smokey and rustic fare or try Little Gem Catering, for mouthwatering menus crafted by Ryan Venning (former head chef at Porthminster Café). Call on Muddy award-winning florist Ruby Alice or Loulabel to deck your halls. Recruit super snapper Ross Talling or Arianna Fenton to capture all your special moments and invite photo van Snapshot Shirley along for some comedy posing. Finally, for the most beautiful and delectable cakes anywhere, look no further than Cornish star bakers, Peboryon.
Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea
Just imagine how absurdly romantic marrying on an island would be. Add one of the most iconic Art Deco hotels in Europe into the mix and you’ve got yourself a Burgh Island wedding. If you’re looking to channel the heady Great Gatsby days in a slinky Jenny Packham number and party like it’s 1929, this venue is an utter dream come true. Where to even begin? The location is priceless, a tidal island creating its own natural drama off the south Devon coast. Dancing under the stars, champagne in the iconic, domed Palm Court Bar; and spending your wedding night in the sexy 1930s beach house, once built as a writer’s retreat for Agatha Christie. Then throwing open the curtains on your first morning as Mr & Mrs to panoramic sea views, before bundling onto the quirky sea tractor with your guests, leaving the magic of the historic island behind. That’s quite a photo album, right?
Bickleigh Castle, Nr Tiverton
If you’ve never quite managed to shake the childhood dream of a fairytale wedding, then how about an actual castle, with actual turrets? Bickleigh Castle is nestled in a gloriously secluded pocket of Devon countryside where the peace is broken only by the babbling River Exe weaving its way through the grounds. The walls of the eleventh century castle are guardians of some remarkable history (including Royalty), the sprawling gardens are enchanting all year-round (scented roses in summer and crimson leaves in autumn) and the options for how you choose to play out your day, whether intimate or grand, are endless. There’s no stuffiness or stiff protocol here, the family who live at the castle are super-flexible about how you use it. Marry in the Great Hall, say ‘I do’ in the gardens, or be blessed in the chocolate box sixth century chapel. With B&B rooms in thatched cottages on-site, the castle and grounds are exclusively yours. Dreamy.
Devon is full of talented types, from florists, to photographers. For a flawless floral design, check out Muddy Award-winning florist Hannah Burnett, who also happens to be a very lovely lady. Devon does cake brilliantly, but for something different, consider a cheese cake – and a locally-made one at that. The Cheese Shed based in Bovey Tracey (conveniently online though) specialise in Westcountry cheeses and offer you the chance to build your own bespoke cheese tower. And then there’s the wine. To help guide you through the turmoil of finding a tipple to suit the tastebuds of all your guests, Jaded Palates, based in Chagford and now Ashburton, will educate, advise and help you source – and taste – some top notch wines. And, to capture the toasts, the brilliant Muddy Award-winning photographer Claire Tregaskis has the best eye for every little detail.
Elmore Court, nr Gloucester
A Grade II-listed stunner near Gloucester, Elmore Court is a real grande dame, but at the same time feels like your quirky, rich friend’s house. The seat of the Guise family for 750 years, it’s got bags of character. The bright, white main hall with its mullioned windows dating back to 1580 is a fairy-tale setting for a civil ceremony or, if you want a church service, the 13th-century Elmore Church is less than a mile away. And then it’s time to feast and frolic! There’s a soundproof, eco ballroom that serves as a modern-rustic dining hall/party palace (seating up to 200) and there’s also room for 45 guests to have a luxury sleepover. The recently renovated, three-bed Coach House serves as the perfect, night-before-the-big-day bridal prep pad, while the big house offers a couple of sumptuous, bridal suite choices, one with a decadent copper bath. And for guests with kids in tow, there’s a family wing with its own kitchen, plus in-house catering team should you require it.
The Lodge, nr Stroud
The Old Lodge, which sits in a prime spot commanding 360-degree views of the awe-inspiring Stroud Valleys, is all set up to make your dream day come true. This pub is a great place for a drink and superior bite to eat, but also doubles up as one of the area’s most popular wedding venues with facilities to cater for 100. There are three spots to say ‘I do’, including an achingly romantic outdoor pergola. Events Manager Ryan has loads of great ideas up his sleeve – ice-cream vans, singing waiters, groovy photo booths. On the food front the world is your oyster at The Old Lodge as the kitchen is able to cater everything from a classy hog roast to a posh sit-down feast. And when the party gets going, you can pump up the volume as much as you want as your only neighbours are the Common’s cows (and they’re very mellow), before you sink into the huge bed in the bridal suite for your first night of married bliss. Ahhh.
The devil’s in the detail and here are some outfits that get the detail right. Harriet’s Organic Hairdressing will make you look like a princess while giving your hair a health boost. Lash Junkie turns up the volume on your lashes giving you an irresistible doe-eyed look. And, when you’re ready for your close-up, James Fear Wedding Photographer knows how to get your good side. Oops a daisy! does the best posies and venue decorations and displays. And Sibling Distillery knows how to get a party started with its superior range of gins.
I give you your sunset, festival wedding with dear friends, family and the people you love most-est in this whole wide world (plus erm, the odd cow). Yes, if bunting, bonfires and barefoot dancing are your thing, then you need to know about Beautiful Bells. You can hire a village of bell tents from our Muddy Award winners, with your own uber-romantica wedding-night bell at the centre – all log burners, proper bedding and fresh-cut flowers… for a good night’s sleep obvs. And fear-not bridezillas stressed brides-to-be, each wedding has a personalised page on Beautiful Bells’ site so guests can book their own tents online. Psst, bridesmaids, let’s not forget The Hen. Gather her squad for bell-based shenanigans. Essentials? Wellies and a hot-pink Indian Headdress. You’ll find Beautiful Bells owner, Katrina, a.k.a The Duracell Bell Bunny, zooming across this green and pleasant land all summer long. She’s your gal if you want to pull-off nuptials in a field. [Read: Katrina’s Festival Wedding Tips]. Let the wild rumpus start!
The Green Man, Winchester
After something equally as quirky, but with city-centre intimacy? Welcome to The Green Man Pub, where edgy-elegant boudoir meets old world ale-house; think beer-pulls, damask brocade, gramophones and teal — Miss Havisham’s absinthe tea-party for the twenty-first century bride. We’re a short walk from the registry office, in the centre of old Winchester with its quixotic tangle of Georgian and Tudor architecture. There are two options for the wedding breakfast, an Edwardian dining room — all cut-glass, elder, damson and lace — or The Outhouse, a more relaxed, industrial, brick-and-chrome affair with one long table for dig-in-and-eat dining. Both areas sit thirty. Expect scoffable food and quaffable wine, all the more special because it is local: New Forest charcuterie, Hampshire spirits, English sparkling wine, that kind of thing. Find your seat and bon appetite.
First things first: the ring. If your bestie’s boyfriend asks, you need to send him to Margaret Turner. She’s a Hampshire-based fine jeweller who makes exquisite, bespoke pieces including engagement and wedding rings. The hen? Not so keen on a boozy night out with L-plates and a flammable veil? Tsk, spoilsport! Then try wine and chats with your girls whilst creating a beautiful piece of silver jewellery (something new?) with the help of the lovely Fiona Dowling from Jewellery Moves, she’s mobile too and trained at London’s Royal College of Art, no less. Florist? That’ll be our Muddy Award winner, Moutan; with three outlets across Hampshire the team are all about elegant simplicity. Photographer? Muddy favourite, Leela Bennett, whose laid-back, intelligent approach is wedding-proof. And then, phew, all is confetti-d, toasted and finally done. Mr&Mrs can retreat for the night. How about Escape&Retreat’s heavenly shepherds-hut in the North Wessex Downs? Think soul-soothing, fire-pit roasting and hot-tub soaks: fizz and fluffy bathrobes included.
The Grove, Chandler’s Cross
The Grove is known as London’s country estate – a stonking mansion just 18 miles from central London and 30 mins from Heathrow. When it opened as a hotel and spa in 2003, its style was immediately described as ‘groovy grand’. Today, it’s even groovier and grander. The 18th Century architecture is definitely grand and Martin Hulbert’s interiors bring on the groove. Think hip members’ club in 300 acres of parkland – as rolling as you like – with canal, river, meadowland, beach, and an 18-hole golf course. You’ve also got formal, sunken and walled gardens with stunning sculptures outside and Murano chandeliers, dramatic colour and contemporary art inside. Everything is served with humour. It’s the kind of flamboyant and fun approach to luxury that makes you want to get engaged, rent some extra mates – you can entertain up to 700 guests here – and put on the best party ever. Loads of options – you can get hitched in the restored glasshouse in the walled garden or in one of the numerous and individually styled rooms in the mansion itself.
Rothamsted Manor, Harpenden
Slightly off-radar and all the better for it, Rothamsted Manor is a swoony Grade I listed manor house in Harpenden. It’s a stunning and elegant building with a library, big fireplaces, parquet and carved patterned floors, stained glass windows, oak panelling and leather walls. 12 acres of formal gardens and woodland for guests to mingle. There are those who claim that Rothamsted Manor featured in Pride and Prejudice, but then again, this could be fiction! For smaller weddings, you can seat 76 guests but for bigger affairs, a marquee or tipi will pop up on the croquet lawn. The Great Drawing Room might have a few tales to tell from the parties that have been held here for centuries, and the parquet floor is gleaming yet non-slip: ready for your guests to unleash their inner Beyoncé.
For a show-stopping wedding cake, your Herts’ go-to star baker is Sherry Hostler Cake Artistry. Sherry has won every baking award under the sun, she’s based in Tring, and her wedding cakes are dreamy. She relishes a challenge and will create your very own story in cake. She’s also a fun person to work with. A photographer who is loved by all (and has 21 amazing comments on the Muddy Herts site) is Sharon Cooper. She is exceptionally talented and is a big hearted, colourful and creative person and I absolutely love her photographs. For flowers, three florists in Herts get my vote: Nicky Pritchard at Forever Green in Nettleden, near Berkhamsted; Alice Calcasola at All in One Season in Letchworth and Emma Sousa, the Urban Flower Farmer in East Barnet. These three talented women all specialise in weddings and are all Muddy Herts’ favourites.
East Quay Venue, Whitstable
With its cool, quirky interior, fresh fish and oysters on tap and seaside setting it’s no surprise that this Kent cutie recently won an award for being the best place to get married in the south east. One of Whitstable’s oldest buildings, the East Quay Venue sits on the pebbled harbour, is a fully licensed wedding location, boasts a large dining room, dance floor, stage, open-plan kitchen, as well as a mezzanine level – oh and direct sea views of course. It’s the original oyster grading room and retains its pared-down brick structure, coastal heritage and hipstery charm. Quite frankly it makes me want to get married all over again just to have a right old knees up here.
Kingdom Clubhouse, Penshurst
This striking four-storey, wood building stands in the most magical setting of 13-acre woodland in Penshurst (about half way between the towns of Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells), easily accessible from London, and the perfect wedding party venue. With the ground floor set up for dining, plenty of space for throwing some shapes, you can even nip up to the open roof deck to toast your special day under the stars with a beautiful backdrop over the rolling valley stretching out beneath you. Think relaxed, whimsical and bohemian – but with serious style credentials and that just about sums up this well-kept woodland secret (it’s only just officially opened this year – shhhhh).
Planning a wedding in Kent? Don’t even think about your flowers until you’ve checked out these brilliant local florists who have been awarded the sought after Muddy stamp of approval. Or, if just the thought of all that research makes your brain want to burst, let me introduce Home Gurr’own – a wedding caterer and event planner that specialises in quality, local Kent food and are top of their game when it comes to style and rustic charm. They can organise the whole day for you from start to finish, taking away all the stress and anxiety of planning (so you can just get on with the small matter of having your Best Day Ever).
Bawdon Lodge Farm, Loughborough
In the heart of Charnwood Forest and with stunning views as a far as the eye can see, Bawdon Lodge is more than a field on a farm and is the perfect blank canvas for a romantic wedding. The farm is run by Richard and Lynn Bailey who pull out all the stops for your big day – they won Wedding Event Team of the Year, East Midlands at the Wedding Industry Awards so you know you’re in good hands. Couples can choose to celebrate their big day in a marquee, yurt or tipi and the inside can be styled to how you wish – your wedding, your way. The venue can accommodate up to 250 guests and the events team have great relationships with local suppliers so can suggest everything from catering to photography. Guests can take advantage of the stunning grounds and camp in hired bell tents or bring their own campervans during the outdoor wedding season which runs from April to October.
Ladywood Estate, Rutland
Fancy arriving to your wedding in a helicopter? Well you can at Ladywood Estate! This grand country venue comes complete with parkland, lakes and woodland making it picture perfect for those all important wedding shots. Ladywood Estate offers exclusive hire of the entire estate and is also licensed for civil ceremonies. The Wedding Pavilion is housed in a converted barn and is set amongst the stunning gardens of the venue. For those wanting a large wedding, the venue can cater for up to 400 guests with additional areas for a dance floor, bar and more. The Orangery is also available and is a perfect spot for a champagne reception and opens up to a pretty, private terrace. Ladywood Estate work with a list of preferred suppliers which includes catering companies who can create bespoke menus for you and your guests. For a truly romantic end to your day, couples can choose to stay in the scenic Victorian Boat House, accessed by a private road giving you complete and utter privacy after your celebrations.
Hale’s Hall, Norwich
For the first time in its 1,100-year history, Norfolk’s impressive Hales Hall is available to book for your wedding reception – just imagine your wedding party having a photograph taken just like this one. Built in 1478 by Sir James Hobart, Attorney General to Henry VII no less, this Grade I listed Tudor Hall is set in a beautiful 9-acre estate filled with manicured lawns, extensive topiary, cottage garden planting and a small moat – photogenic backdrops for the best day of your life don’t get much better than this. Thanks to a sympathetic and award-winning renovation in 2014, there are three exquisite cottages for your guests to stay in (Hales Hall, The Gatehouse and The Cottage), accommodating 25 guests in 13 bedrooms. Internal decor is as grand and elegant as the exterior – think oak beamed ceilings, open fire places, AGA cookers and roll-top baths. Conveniently located just 13 miles from Norwich, with its quick connections to London via train, and other hubs in the country/Europe via plane, taking a step back in history has never been so easy. Now all you need is the husband!
Cley Windmill, Cley-next-the-Sea
Imagine getting married in a windmill? What a great story to tell the grandchildren? Well, in Norfolk, this fairytale can become a reality. North Norfolk’s Cley Windmill is licensed for weddings and civil ceremonies, and offers dining and accommodation in a beautiful setting. The Sitting Room is the location for an intimate ceremony, after which you can enjoy a glass of Champagne in the Windmill Dining Room or – if the weather is kind – in the beautiful gardens with its views of boats on the river and rolling countryside. During the summer the landscape takes on a kind of purple hue which is unforgettable. After a better view? Climb to the top of the windmill and walk around the summit, ideal for wedding photographs with the sails in the background. Adjacent to the windmill is a beautiful B&B offering eight bedrooms, including a Bridal suite. There’s also a self-catering cottage next door housing 20 guests. Eat your heart out, Windy Miller!
One of the best, not to mention prettiest, mobile bars in the county is undoubtedly Little Horse Box. For a wedding photographer, look no further than Chris Boland Weddings. For cakes, get stuck into The Pink Partridge Cake Company. For the perfect dress, try Brides of Norfolk and for wedding hair check out Boldero & Filby.
Brampton Grange, Chapel Brampton
This beautiful 400 year old venue is the perfect place for those who love something traditional but with a bit of a contemporary twist. The stand out features include high ceiling timber beams, exposed brickwork in the wooden barn and 25 acres of private land that’s the perfect backdrop for those all-important pictures of the day (or general debauchery with no prying eyes)! If you’re looking for a bigger affair and a good old knees up in the evening, Brampton Grange is perfect as it holds up to 160 guests for the ceremony and 300 for the less civilised evening do. Plus, the big selling point is it’s an exclusive venue – which means it’s just for your party – lucky old you. If an overnight stay is important, there’s a range of guests cottages, as well as a larger house for up to 15 people (usually reserved for the happy couple). There are 8 en-suite rooms as well as a pool, which is great if you don’t mind seeing familiar faces in the morning (it’s the kind of house where you may not even have gone to bed)! Ding dong!
Highgate House, Creaton
This one is perfect for those of you who dream of a quintessential English landscape with the friendliest of staff. The 17th Century house has stacks of charm and character as well as jaw dropping scenery of rural Northamptonshire. If you’re a foodie, the award-winning culinary offering and service (tailored to your requirements) are bound to win you over (and the head chef is a sweetie). The house has a range of rooms to choose from, whether it’s a wood panelled historical room or something more light and airy. The venue hosts up to 120 for the reception, 170 for the wedding breakfast and 220 people for the evening reception. Highgate House also throws in a personal wedding planner to make your day as stress free as possible (read confessions of that very wedding planner here).
Cranford Hall, Kettering
This Georgian mansion (still a family home) has a huge amount of character as well as being able to be tailored to your needs in more ways than one (Muddy always feels very Gatsbyesque here). Weddings are held in the adjoining ‘studio’ room, which holds up to 125 guests, however, if you long for a more intimate affair, the Brewhouse is perfect for a smaller sized party of up to 25 people. If your dream wedding is of the scale of up to 500 guests, a fairytale-esque marquee is also available. All party sizes have an in house catering service available to feed (and water) your beloved guests, and as well as a gorgeous interior, the nurtured gardens are just as impressive. The owners have been known to throw an amazing part or two in their time, so you’re on solid celebratory ground! Guests often bring giant lawn games to while away the hours and did we mention we held one of the Muddy Awards there? Yup, it’s a goodie!
Cornwell Manor, Chipping Norton
I’ve visited this beautiful Cotswold manor house estate and I can tell you, in no uncertain terms, that it’s totally stonking. Situated on the Oxfordshire-Gloucestershire borders in stunning rolling countryside, it sits on a 2000 acre site that includes a grand Jacobean house (updated with a Georgian facade in the 18th century), a petite Norman church (in which you can marry), lakes, woods, streams and gardens designed by Clough Williams-Ellis who created the exquisite Italianate gardens at Portmeirion in North Wales. Available for exclusive hire, it would work brilliantly for a big bash – they can erect a marquee on the croquet lane to hold 300, while the ballroom can hold 100. And don’t miss the stunning outdoor heated swimming pool to boot that has more than a hint of the Riviera. Frankly, it’s heavenly.
Bix Manor, Henley-on-Thames
A stunning venue in one of the loveliest parts of Oxfordshire, The Great Tithe Barn at Bix Manor is part of a complex of beautiful brick and flint farm buildings dating from the 1660s. Part of a privately owned and managed estate, the setting is peaceful and super-romantic with wonderful high ceilings and stripped beams, draped fairy lights and exposed brickwork. The tithe barn works equally well over summer when the tithe barn is wonderfully cool, or in winter when the huge log fire open on all sides keeps guests toasty. Owner Gary has been planning weddings for 30 years and prides himself on a start-to-finish service – basically if you want it, he can deliver it! Unusually for such a luxurious venue, you can bring your own wine and no corkage is charged which is a massive plus. Fancy another glass? I do!
The Tythe Barn, Bicester
How’s this for a personal recommendation – Muddy HQ’s Kerry Potter got married at this deluxe converted barn near Bicester a decade ago and says it was totally divine. It’s a stunning setting – expansive manicured lawns, pretty pergolas and pathways, surrounding a large Oxfordshire stone barn with exposed beams, perfect for decking with fairy lights, flowers or bunting, and with capacity for 120 guests. Owners Emma and Will Deeley are experienced party planners, with faultless attention to detail, and with their in-house catering company in partnership with Jamie Oliver, the food is top-notch. They’ve recently added a cute, wooden shepherd’s hut on site, which is charmingly rustic but comes with mod-cons such as underfloor heating and a proper bathroom – perfect for a wedding night sleepover.
Venues don’t come much more chi-chi and gourmet than Raymond Blanc’s famous, fabulous country house hotel, with its restaurant that’s retained two Michelin stars for over 30 years. Le Manoir offers intimate weddings for up to 50 guests, with wedding breakfast menus devised by Blanc himself, or, if you have extremely deep pockets (containing, ahem, around £100k) you can rent out the whole gaff for exclusive use. Whatever you do, we’d recommend commissioning the head pâtissier to create a show-stopping traditional French croque-en-bouche wedding cake. What’s more, the wine cellar contains 1000 different types of vino from around the world – even we couldn’t drink all of that. Or could we?
Exciting frock news – Black Swan Bridal Studio in Wallingford is the only place in Oxfordshire that stocks Alice Temperley’s current season dreamy boho gowns (the Bicester Village store’s selection are all previous season sale ones). Meanwhile, all the best wedding receptions involve a van these days. Yes, really. Take your pick locally from The Wonder Kitchen‘s cute cupcake van (painted pink, naturally), to dispense sweet treats to your guests, or flag down Box Seventy-Seven‘s 1970s Citroen van turned pop-up cocktail bar. For florals you can’t beat Watlington-based Babylon Flowers, used umpteen times by Muddy Founder Hero who is a huge fan of their natural British flowers (grown at their own nursery no less). Elements Henley has hair and make-up covered, with a whole section in the salon that can be booked for wedding parties, so everyone can be beautified by their expert team together.
Maunsel House, North Newton, nr Taunton
Princess and the Pea? Sleeping Beauty? This bedroom comes straight from the pages of a fairy tale. Historic Maunsel House sits in 100 acres of parkland – think roaming peacocks, white fantail doves, tiny Shetland ponies – in a 2,000 acre estate with lakes, woodland, a walnut grove, orchards and moors. This is no hotel but the stupendous, eccentric home of Sir Benjamin Slade, complete with secret passages and priest holes. Kings, queens and other notables have stayed here, including Alfred the Great in 845 (no cakes burnt) and Geoffrey Chaucer. Get hitched under the chandeliers in the Regency ballroom, alongside suits of armour in the Victorian library, under the pergola or bandstand in the gardens or in tiny St Michael’s church, where the real Wife of Bath got married – five times. Bespoke drinks, receptions and wedding breakfasts in all of the above (bar the church) or the opulent Georgian dining room. Have fun exploring the house here.
Babington House, Babington, nr Frome
Honey coloured Georgian mansion, ditto tiny chapel, 18 acres of gorgeous grounds with lake and picture book Victorian walled garden – with spa, eclectic art, colours that pop, sophisticated edge…shall I go on? This is romantic Somerset country style with an urban twist – very Muddy Stilettos. Part of the Soho House group, it’s a private members’ club beloved by celebs but anyone can get married here. Tie the knot in St Margaret’s Church next to the house or in the Orangery at the back of the house overlooking the grounds (fab wedding feasts in the O, too). Get ready for the nuptials (or recuperate afterwards) in the Cowshed spa – treatments, sauna, steam – swim in the indoor-outdoor pool, play croquet on the lawn or watch a flick in the private cinema. The happy couple get the playroom honeymoon suite with freestanding bath and free bar. Everyone else hunkers down in a range of luxe accommodation – some with tubs for two on the terrace.
Natural wild styled wedding flowers by Amber Pritchard at Little Thatch. Hannah Marchant Illustrates and makes bespoke wedding stationery. Reportage style wedding pix by BAFTA award-winner Emily Fairweather Photography. Forget traditional fruit cake or chocolate sponge – how about a Godminster Cheese wedding cheese cake made up of eight different cheeses?
If you want a romantic wedding amongst beautiful grapevines, then you can’t go past England’s biggest wine estate in the heart of the Surrey Hills. Set on 265 acres of vineyards with stunning views out over the vines, Box Hill and the North Downs, Denbies Wine Estate has everything the loved-up couple might want for their wedding day. There’s a choice of three rooms or a pretty outdoor courtyard for the ceremony. Move into the candle-lit wine cellar for reception drinks, before a wedding breakfast in either the Conservatory Atrium (250 guests) or the Garden Room (up to 70 guests). Or, for a more intimate affair The Gallery Restaurant – which has stunning views – can seat between 30 and 60 guests. And there’s no need to leave the venue when the party’s over – there’s accommodation at Denbies Farmhouse for the bride and groom, plus an additional six bedrooms for the bridal party. As you’d expect from a wedding specialist, Denbies has a specialist wedding team to help with the planning.
Botleys Mansion, Chertsey
Want a wedding with wow-factor? Let me introduce Botleys Mansion near Chertsey. This grand Palladian country house is available for exclusive use for 24 hours (so no need to rush off to make way for the next bride and groom), and offers three stylish spaces to say ‘I do’, as well as gorgeous reception areas and luxury accommodation. For the ceremony, the Green Room is a romantic and intimate space with seating for 130 guests, or for larger weddings there’s the Atrium with its impressive grand staircase and sparkling chandeliers. In the summer months, there’s also the option of taking it outside into the Temple Gardens. For the reception, the Atrium is an ultra-glamorous space, or for an elegant more intimate dining space there’s the Green Room. The banqueting teams will help you chose the perfect menu, which will prepared by the in-house chefs, and when the party’s over the bride and groom can retire to the luxurious bridal suite with a four poster bed and beautiful views across the countryside. There are also another 11 stylish guest bedrooms.
Ramster Hall and Gardens, Chiddingfold
Ramster Hall and Gardens is a magical backdrop for your day of nuptials. The stage is set from the moment you turn into the magnificent drive leading up to the 17th century Ramster Hall. It’s surrounded by 25 acres of stunning gardens and peaceful woodlands with views of lakes and hillsides. The house itself is still privately owned, and can be hired for exclusive use for both your civil ceremony and your wedding reception. The Long Hall and Great Drawing Room are gorgeous beamed and panelled halls, over 100ft long and full of period charm. Dating back to 1604, the Long Hall can accommodate up to 160 seated guests or 200 for a stand-up reception, while next door the Great Drawing Room is licensed for civil marriages and can be arranged for any size wedding up to 160 guests. In the winter, a beautiful inglenook fireplace can be set with a blazing log fire, while summer weddings can make the most of the secluded enclosed courtyard. Befitting of a venue such as this, there’s also a grand piano as well as a built-in music system, and an in-house catering team is on hand to take care of the menu.
After you have the venue sorted, there is still plenty to think about and we’ve done a little research to help out with some of the extras. In Surrey, we’re spoiled for specialist wine shops. Taurus Wines in Bramley have an online wedding wine guide to help steer you through the minefield of which fizz to toast with and which wines to have on the table. Cellar Wines in Ripley is another boutique wine shop to consider. For pre-wedding pampering, the bride and her entourage, and quite possibly the groom, have plenty of choices throughout Surrey. In Reigate, The Nail and Body Boutique will take care of the lot from tanning to nails, and wedding makeup. In Godalming, head to Polished for top-to-toe treatments including tanning and nails, while Cranleigh’s Idyllic Beauty Spa will sort all your beauty needs including tanning, nails and make up. The Cobham Clinic in Cobham, Seven Beauty in Ripley, and the Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Lifestyle Spa and Salon in Guildford are also brilliant. In Godalming, The Luxury Touch will calm those wedding jitters with facials and massage. For photographers, Kaptured by Kate specialises in wedding photography, and for a florist you’ll be hard pressed to find better than Mad Lilies in Banstead.
The Gallivant, Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex
Think you need to go abroad for a beach wedding? Think again. The Gallivant, just across from celebrated Camber Sands, often has its wedding parties break out into the dunes for photos, drinks and handmade ice cream. The theme continues with feasting from sharing platters at driftwood tables in the Gallivant’s Beach Hut Marquee decorated with shells, lanterns and bunting. Don’t rule out winter either, when a ‘hygge’ feel is created with log fires, sheepskins and lanterns. The boutique hotel can hold ceremonies for up to 120, or you could say your vows in another nearby venue (a lighthouse even) before heading back for the reception, handled by the Gallivant’s award-winning kitchen. Sleep over in one of the relaxing Scandi- or Hamptons-styled rooms or the romantic wood-panelled Snug Cabin. Most weddings take over all 20 rooms for that real house party feel. Check out the video and gorgeous real-life weddings on the website.
Chapel Barn, Bolney, West Sussex
Rustic 700-year-old Chapel Barn near Bolney in mid Sussex opened as a venue a year ago following a loving restoration. It holds 100 seated for a ceremony and 80 -100 for dinner, depending on layout, and has a built-in bar and stage. Let the fun spill over into the surrounding farmland with marquees, giant garden games and pop-up food and drink stalls. You can even arrange for up to ten guests to camp overnight, while the on-site 15th century farmhouse has three double bedrooms available for self-catering stays.The venue is also available for other events – in fact it hosted this year’s Muddy Award winners’ drinks. So, if you’re looking for a hen party with a difference, join one of Chapel Barn’s Mad Hatter’s gin picnics, wine tastings or cookery courses, or have a chat with them about something tailor-made.
For further Sussex-based wedding services check out Muddy Award winners The Enchanted Florist and Calley’s Cakes. For locally-produced organic wine speak to Oxney Estate about their range, including sparkling varieties. Looking for a stylish mother-of the bride outfit? the-Bias-Cut.com specialises in flattering, cliché-free fashion for the over-40s.
Mallory Court Country House Hotel and Spa, Leamington Spa
In the heart of the Warwickshire countryside, close to historic Leamington Spa and Warwick, Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa is one of the Midland’s finest luxury country wedding venues. A stunning 43-bedroom manor house and newly opened Muddy-award-winning Elan Spa, set in 10 acres of grounds, will provide the perfect backdrop to your wedding ceremony and reception. Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering for a handful of people or a celebration for up to 160 guests, your big day will be in safe hands with their dedicated wedding coordinator and wedding team. The hotel’s in-house florist and accessories supplier can advise you on stunning floral displays, co-ordinated chair covers, napkins and other designer touches. Also ideal venue for a Spa Party where you and your hens can unwind and be pampered before your wedding.
Hilltop Farm, Fosse Way, Hunningham
If you’re looking for a boho wedding with a view to say ‘I do’ – look no further. Here you can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere – perfect for less formal, rustic, fun and festival-themed weddings. The wedding marquee looks out across the fields for miles and miles and it’s a venue that can tailored entirely to suit any couple’s dream day. The Ellis family- who have owned the farm for three generations – will look after everything – from the decorations to the catering, offering that all important personal touch you get from an independent family-run local business. They also have a glamping site, so that newlyweds and their guests can even spend a romantic wedding night under the stars just across the field.
The Fuzzy Duck, Armscote nr Stratford-upon-Avon
Once a coaching inn, this multi-award-winning refurbished pub, restaurant and boutique B&B is a cosy combination of exposed beams, flagstone floors and roaring fireplaces. The Fuzzy Duck opened in 2013 founded by the owners of family beauty brand, Baylis & Harding. Since opening its doors in 2013, the pub has achieved numerous coveted accolades, including 2016 Les Routiers Bed & Breakfast of The Year, Muddy Stilettos Warwickshire award – Best Boutique Stay and is featured in The Michelin Guide and The Good Pub Guide. ‘The Garage’ overlooks the terrace and garden and is the perfect place to host an intimate wedding, there’s a large table that seats 20 people for a formal dinner or if you’d prefer to experience the more informal pub atmosphere, book the intimate open plan snug with its cosy wood burner. Offering a range of exclusive private dining options, for quirky or more traditional weddings, to suit your needs. A special seasonal function menu can be tailored to your requirements.
Grittleton House, Chippenham
This beautiful Victorian Manor House is truly a venue fit for a princess. Grittleton House is brimming with stunning features, impressive balconies, sweeping double staircase and original features, an elegance worthy of any fairy-tale. It’s the perfect heavenly setting for your special day. Why not get ready in the majestic drawing room and enjoy a glass of fizz before making your entrance? After the ceremony greet your guests with champagne and canapes in the Italian Gardens with plenty of opportunities for those all-important photographs. Then it’s time to tuck into your scrumptious wedding breakfast in one of the State Rooms. It’s a full-on romance fest here, ladies. You want the best? This is the one for you! Stunning grounds, venue to die for, delicious food, attentive staff…we don’t reckon you’ll be disappointed if you throw your Big Bash here.
Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal
Oh my God, I’m going to ditch the hubby and get married again, just so I can do it here. There are 11 acres of ornate gardens, two incredible pavilions, a Jubilee Hall, Lower Indian Room, General’s Room, Singing Theatre (shall I keep going?) and everything else you could think of to host the quintessential English country wedding. But more than that they’ll throw you a unique Secret Garden Wedding, perfectly designed for those wanting something smaller, something intimate and with less pomp and ceremony (and waaaay less distant relatives). Which my second wedding will be, right? A gorgeously romantic setting, a temple to get hitched in, Pimms alfresco on the lawn…it couldn’t be more perfect. Right, Mr Right. Where’ve you been hiding?
Casterley Barn, Rushall
Be the first to have your special day at the luxury, eco-friendly stunner that is Casterley Barn. The whole venue, set on an organic farm with stunning views of the Wiltshire countryside, is exclusively yours and trust me, you won’t ever want to leave. Originally an old cattle shed, the venue has been converted into a modern events space overlooking the Vale of Pewsey. Casterley Barn will hold up to 150 people for a seated dinner or 200 for a standing reception, and also includes a cosy mezzanine level club room with log burner, ideal for smaller occasions. Big bonus in our book is the sustainability factor – set on an organic farm that has been family-run for five generations, Casterley Barn will operate entirely off grid using the latest solar and battery technology and a biomass boiler. So now you can party into the small hours and save the environment. You gotta love that.
Perfection Spa, Malmesbury for fantabulous bridal packages – make up, skin care, waxing, tanning and general total relaxation (with a glass of fizz in hand, of course); Photography by Sally-Anne for gorgeous snaps with bags of character; Bubble Bar Events for a converted horsebox serving cocktails (yes, please!); and Charlotte Tillyer for utterly gorgeous locks on the night. The shepherd’s huts and bell tents at Highway Hill could be the perfect place to rest your weary/drunken heads after the event, and what about blooms from My Flower Patch for perfect posies?