Sunday, 2 July 2017

WEDDING: Finding a venue

Tips for finding a barn wedding venue within 2 hours of Hertfordshire with no corkage

Now, let's be straight here. I'm going to start talking about weddings a bit on this blog. I'm preparing you now, so you can run if it's boring - but I promise I'll keep the yummy recipes and various life-stuff babble coming too, if wedding chatter really isn't your thing.

Even though we got engaged in October, we agreed that we wouldn't start 'officially planning' until 2017 started, as we were buying our house at the end of last year and assumed that we'd be a bit busy sorting it out. We definitely were. But I still grabbed a few moments to start planning, which consisted of working out a rough budget and starting to compile a list of venues that might be worth a look. It was worth it - we found one we loved, and we booked it a few weeks ago. May 2018, this thing is happening - eeek!

Now, I'm a bit of a control freak, and I like to plan things well. So I decided to create a spreadsheet of every venue I was looking into, filling in a list of criteria as I went which I'll share in a moment. This was quite a bit of work, but it was worth it. It meant that I had a record of all these venues and could see at a glance why I'd counted them out, or - more importantly - see if they were worth a second look. As it happened, our criteria changed a little, and so I did go back to my list, so I was so grateful that I'd gathered all this info.

Tips for finding a barn wedding venue within 2 hours of Hertfordshire with no corkage

Everyone's criteria will be different, but here are my categories:
  • Venue name
  • Location
  • Distance (we set a 2 hour radius)
  • Capacity
  • Hire cost
  • Do they have a civil ceremony license?
  • Do they charge corkage?
  • Do they allow you to choose caterers?
  • Does the hire cost include tables and chairs?
Initially, we wanted somewhere totally DIY, where we could bring our own caterers, let our guests bring their own booze if they wanted - a complete blank slate that we could make our own. A civil ceremony license didn't matter too much, we could do the legal bit afterwards or before.

But then, as I started to shortlist the venues we might want to see, I discovered that the difference in price between the blank slate venues and the more coordinated venues was a bit of a false economy. Most blank slate venues were £1000 or £2000 cheaper than the coordinated ones, which sounds like a lot - and it is - but then I realised in some cases you could be looking at around £900 to hire tables and chairs (some places charge for delivery and collection too, which was a shock - although when you consider the logistics of moving 100 odd chairs, it makes more sense), and at least £500 on top of that for a separate civil ceremony. Probably more. And the more I thought about it, the more doing EVERYTHING ourselves wasn't that appealing. Yes, we wanted to put our own mark on it, but did we want all our guests moving chairs around after our ceremony? Or our suppliers asking loads of questions when we were trying to enjoy the day? Not so much. Not when we weren't actually saving any money by doing that.

Tips for finding a barn wedding venue within 2 hours of Hertfordshire with no corkage

This is where having the ridiculous spreadsheet came in handy, because I started looking again at venues that I thought were a little out of our price range and found some good ones. I only selected ones with a civil ceremony license, and while I relaxed about bringing our own caterers, I still wanted a no corkage venue. Budget is a big consideration, and no corkage meant we could bring our own alcohol and not be charged for the privilege. It's a big thing. I've seen some venues charging £35 a head for alcohol - that includes a glass of prosecco after the ceremony, half a bottle of wine at dinner and a glass of fizz for the toast. FOR THIRTY FIVE POUNDS. I've also seen venues charge £15-20 for corkage. So that's on top of your booze. Per bottle. No corkage means we can drop that to £15 a head for alcohol, which is basically three bottles of wine per person. Which is plenty, even for my boozy friends.

The venue we've chosen, The Tithe Barn, fits pretty much all my criteria (and it's PRETTY). We do have to hire chairs, but they have a good deal with a local business which means it's not a huge extra cost, and it was so much cheaper than a lot of places that do include chairs, so I could deal with that. We have a choice of ten caterers to choose from, there's no corkage, they're within our 2 hour radius, we can have the ceremony there and there's lots of accommodation nearby for our friends. There's also a good support team, so we're not doing this completely by ourselves. Phew.

If this is the kind of thing you're after - a barn venue with a civil ceremony license, no corkage, space for over 100 guests and within 2 hours of Hertfordshire, then here's a list:
And if you want a look at my ridiculous spreadsheet, just shout - always happy to help another planner. I'm going to do a post at some point about some of the venues I've been to as a guest - as you've probably noticed, I go to a lot of weddings, so some of those might help you, too!

NB: The venue info was correct as of January 2017 when I made my spreadsheet, but may have changed since.

Tips for finding a barn wedding venue within 2 hours of Hertfordshire with no corkage
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1 comment

  1. Congrats - it looks so pretty! We viewed 3 veryyyy different venues and ultimately went with our gut feel but we are so excited (we're doing Dodmoor House, nearish to Dodford Manor on your list but that was wayyyyy overpriced in our opinion!). Eek!

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