Who knew?

by Suw on February 12, 2007

Thank you to everyone who has sent us congratulations. We've had so many cards, emails, IMs, Twitters, messages via IRC, Second Life and carrier pigeon. Ok, I made that last one up, but still, thank you all. I have so many emails to reply to, it's quite overwhelming, but in a nice way.
Overwhelming in not such a nice way is the search for a suitable venue. I just can't believe how much some of these places are charging Рit's extortionate. When Kevin blogged about the wedding industrial complex he was talking about the US Рhere we seem to have the wedding rip-off instead. A piece on BBCi about a church guide to cutting the cost of weddings says that the average cost of a wedding is £17,000, whilst the hellish You and Your Wedding puts it at £20k. Jeeze. We could put a deposit down on a house with that sort of money.
The trouble is, being 35 I've had a lot of time to sit and think about what my ideal wedding would be. I always thought that I would want something simple – have the ceremony and the reception in the same place, and just have some nice food and lots of dancing. (Not a disco, though. Over my cold, dead body does a DJ get into my wedding. No, I'm thinking more like medieval dancing or maybe a barn dance.) My venue would be something with exposed beams, possibly an actual barn, and I'd have lots of friends and it would all be lovely and romantic and fun and memorable.
Trouble is, any venue that's got even the merest hint of character costs an arm and a leg. And a kidney. With an option on your firstborn too. I must have looked at dozens of websites by now, and I just can't believe how much some of these places want to charge.
One place we're considering, although I don't yet know the cost, is Canford School, but their Saturdays are booked up until December 2008, meaning we'd have to have a Friday wedding instead. I don't mind the thought of a Friday wedding, but everyone would have to have the day off work. Another place that looked promising until I saw the cost of catering was Larmer Farm Gardens, but they have a minimum charge of £2500 for catering, which frankly is a bit much. Another potential venue is Sopley Mill, although reports coming back via the grapevine are that, whilst they are cheap, their catering is not up to scratch.
It's enough to make you want to elope.
(Note to Mum: It's ok. We're not going to elope. At least, not without telling you where we're going first.)

Anonymous February 12, 2007 at 7:54 pm

Erk. Lots of cash. And for what, a day?
I guess I'm too young to comment…

Anonymous February 12, 2007 at 8:10 pm

How wonderful ! A wedding without a DJ

Anonymous February 12, 2007 at 8:40 pm

We were very lucky when we got married ten years ago. My partner's mum suggested The Larmer Tree gardens on the Dorset/Wilts border, where she'd recently seen Jools Holland playing. We ended up getting it to ourselves for a Saturday for £300 (!!!!!). I think that we were one of the first weddings they'd had there Рand they have since started to capitalise on their asset a bit more. Our friends got married there a couple of years ago, and it was nearer £3,000.
It is however worth it if you can stretch to the cost. The gardens have lots of strange and beautiful little buildings in them, which one of the C19th Pitt-Rivers brought back or copied during his travels. The Tibetan 'temple' building was my favourite. The buildings include an amazing arched stage – in which we had our musician friends play some vigorous Irish jig stuff which was great for young and old dancing on the grass in front of them.
The best bit is that everyone gets to wander off and explore the grounds, looking out for parrots, getting a tiny bit lost, and then exploring all the different buildings. Children playing hide and seek, and grown ups finding shady glades for a romantic snog 🙂 If it rains there's lots of shelter – and it all has a lot more soul than some big hotel.
We kept our costs low by growing the flowers in a friend's garden (wedding was in August, and we planted loads of sweetpeas in the spring), getting a fantastically unfussy local caterer who did loads of really tasty salads and snacky things that people could graze on throughout the afternoon (rather than an overformal sit-down rubber chicken thing), and driving to France to get lots of wine and Normandy cider, for which very little corkage was charged. People knew they could bring picknicky stuff for themselves too if they wanted to.
Here's the website:
< http://larmertree.co.uk/>
Good luck with yours – and enjoy it, wherever you end up.

Anonymous February 12, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Doh!
That'll teach me to read to the end of the post before commenting. I got as far as 'Canford School…', and dashed off the following.
I'd only add that we used (cheaper, but 'arty' and very good) outside caterers when we were at the Larmer Tree, but that was a decade ago. Pricey it might be, but the setting is unique and eclectic – allowing you and your friends and family the possibility to have the kind of wedding day you actually want to have (I know I sound like a brochure, but that was genuinely how we felt, and represents the feedback we had from friends).
Anyway, here's what I wrote:
We were very lucky when we got married ten years ago. My partner's mum suggested The Larmer Tree gardens on the Dorset/Wilts border, where she'd recently seen Jools Holland playing. We ended up getting it to ourselves for a Saturday for £300 (!!). I think that we were one of the first weddings they'd had there Рand they have since started to capitalise on their 'asset' a bit more. Our friends got married there a couple of years ago, and it was nearer £3,000.
It is however worth it if you can stretch to the cost. The gardens have lots of strange and beautiful little buildings in them, which one of the C19th Pitt-Rivers brought back or copied during his travels. The Tibetan 'temple' building was my favourite. The buildings include an amazing arched stage – in which we had our musician friends play some vigorous Irish jig stuff which was great for young and old dancing on the grass in front of them.
The best bit is that everyone gets to wander off and explore the grounds, looking out for parrots, getting a tiny bit lost, and then exploring all the different buildings. Children playing hide and seek, and grown ups finding shady glades for a romantic snog 🙂 If it rains there's lots of shelter – and it all has a lot more soul than some big hotel.
We kept our costs low by growing the flowers in a friend's garden (wedding was in August, and we planted loads of sweetpeas in the spring), getting a fantastically unfussy local caterer who did loads of really tasty salads and snacky things that people could graze on throughout the afternoon (rather than an overformal sit-down rubber chicken thing), and driving to France to get lots of wine and Normandy cider, for which very little corkage was charged. People knew they could bring picknicky stuff for themselves too if they wanted to.
Here's the website:
< http://larmertree.co.uk/>
Good luck with yours – and enjoy it, wherever you end up.

Anonymous February 13, 2007 at 4:22 am

As long as it's your day, you don't need to feed the wedding industry. Anyway, I believe your friends don't expect traditional reception. Just share your twitterings on the run-up to the big day.

Anonymous February 13, 2007 at 12:11 pm

The problem is that as soon as you put attach the word 'wedding' to other innocuous words such as 'cake', 'flowers', 'music' – the price doubles or even trebles. It's a nightmare but sadly unavoidable.
On a more helpful note, have you looked at Stockbridge Farm Barn?
http://www.stockbridgefarmbarn.co.uk/. I actually have no real idea what it's like but I know a friend of mine looked at it as a venue before they buggered off to the Carribean instead!

Anonymous February 13, 2007 at 12:12 pm

The problem is that as soon as you put attach the word 'wedding' to other innocuous words such as 'cake', 'flowers', 'music' – the price doubles or even trebles. It's a nightmare but sadly unavoidable.
On a more helpful note, have you looked at Stockbridge Farm Barn?
http://www.stockbridgefarmbarn.co.uk/. I actually have no real idea what it's like but I know a friend of mine looked at it as a venue before they buggered off to the Carribean instead!

Anonymous February 13, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Oh yes, we did look at Stockbridge Farm Barn, but it's too far away from my parents. 🙁 The Clock Barn is also gorgeous too, but also too far away.

Anonymous February 13, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Have you thought about a Friday evening wedding? Have the ceremony at six or so, so everybody can just leave work a wee bit early without having the day off, and then have a good Friday night party? I'm a great believer in not doing weddings the traditional way. It should be about your friends and family getting together to celebrate your marriage, not about companies ripping you off by charging you a thousand pounds for a cake just because it's got a little bride & groom doll on the top. Our whole wedding cost us ¬£500 and everybody had a brilliant time. It was memorable 😀 To be honest, I don't much enjoy proper weddings. It means sitting with a bunch of people you don't know and being polite for a whole day.
And it'd be interesting to see if those places tried to charge you the same extortionate prices if you phoned up to say you wanted to host a company dinner or a birthday party rather than a wedding, don't you think?

Anonymous February 19, 2007 at 2:14 pm

..not only does it keep the price more reasonable but also it stops folks at the venue from giving your phone number to all the local wedding-industry-vampires.

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