You’re likely reading this article because you are considering having a country house as your wedding venue. If so fabulous as I shall share some of the gorgeous venues you could be looking at. I also look at the benefits of country houses and how the different types can cater to different styles and budgets.
Lived in a house a very big house, in the country
I had to use that lyric as it reminds me of when I was younger. Properly vintage now but nowhere near the vintage of a country house.
Country houses can vary massively in size especially when it comes to wedding venues. From the ‘small’ modest houses to the epic like Blenheim Palace. If you’re willing to be flexible on location there is almost certainly a house to suit your personality and budget.
Location Location Location
Despite the name not all country houses are in the country. Many are often adjacent or even in towns and cities. The beautiful Rownhams House shown left/above is within Southampton City boundaries for example. Even with it’s location it still has beautiful grounds for photos (including space to bring your horse!).
It’s important to consider location when choosing your venue. If in the middle of the countryside how will your guests get too and from the venue? Is there accommodation nearby or even on site?
The whole package?
Some country house venues will only give you the option of a full package. Food, drink, flowers, and more will all have to be provided by the venue or their preferred suppliers. They will provide you with a dedicated wedding planner who will help you organise, plan and run your day. Although this is often a more expensive option it removes a lot of stress both prior to, and on the day. You will also save a lot of time searching for suppliers and they will streamline the decision making process for options from their included suppliers.
If you are on more of a budget or you want more say in your day then a dry hire venue could be the ideal choice. If you are happy to have a non legal ceremony you open up an array of additional choices of venues without wedding license. Take for example pictured the Coach House at Everleigh in Wiltshire. It’s an airBnB but also makes the most beautiful location for a small intimate wedding.
Modern or classic?
As with every type of venue you can get variations of interior design and country houses are no different. You can have everything from the character filled houses lovingly caring for the period features and decor, to stunning mansions stylishly renovated to blend modern features with the old buildings.
Pictured left/above is Old Down Estate near Bristol. Beautifully renovated to maintain period features but with clean modern accents.
Below is a photo from Penton Park near Andover. It is a great example of a sympathetically maintained venue. It may not have all the modern comforts but it retains it’s character and as many of the original features as possible. Beautiful painted ceilings and vintage wall paper. Rownhams House is also similar to Penton Park.
The Coach House at Everleigh is on the more modern end of the scale plus as it also doubles as a family home when not an airBnB. It has extra modern comforts and the homely feeling you would expect.
Sole, shared or partial use?
What some people don’t often realise is that when hiring a country house for a wedding they often only get to use a very small part of it. For some venues there will be other uses as well.
Penton Park (left/above) is a family house upstairs but offers almost complete use of the full downstairs area with several rooms. You feel like the house is yours rather than being restricted into a specific section.
The top featured photo is Whitbourne Hall near Worcester. A stately home that was renovated extensively and converted into a number of apartments. A few rooms and the main hall were left separate specifically to be used for a small number of weddings each year. These weddings help cover the running cost of the building so benefiting the owners. So you have sole use of the venue and the residents stay clear, but you only have access to limited space.
Many country houses have been converted into hotels. Such as the Elvetham in Hampshire (see horse and carriage image above and gardens to left/above). They hold hundreds of weddings a year. On the other end of the scale is Deer Park Country Hotel in Devon which although only having just over 10 rooms less than the Elvetham has a much more homely feel.
A disadvantage of a hotel is potentially sharing your venue with other hotel guests. But the cost savings and on-site accommodation which come hand in hand are big advantages for others. Most will offer packages for sole use via either a bigger price tag or a commitment to fill all the bedrooms.
A consideration for venues that give you only partial use is if it’s a rainy day is there sufficient space for photographs inside of both you as a couple and of your guests? Stairs are often a great option for groups in such situations but some may not be available in all venues.
For most couples space on site to get ready for at least one partner is invaluable. Particularly when the venue is remote or far from home. Houses converted to hotels will have rooms a plenty for preparations but partial use private houses may not.
Where preparation rooms are available they commonly have big beautiful windows and large rooms. Windows provide excellent light for make up artists whilst providing focal points, backgrounds and flattering light for me as a photographer!
Finally we must consider the grounds that come with the venue and which are hopefully accessible to you as a couple for photographs and entertaining space.
If it’s a beautiful sunny day outside is there space for your guests to enjoy a drink and socialise? Do you have access to all the grounds for photos? Are those grounds away from your guests? I.e. can you have a private walk whilst your photos are taken?
If the grounds are not sole use will they be busy? Will you have to wait around for people to move out of shot? One that few will consider if a busy dog walking spot could you be faced by muddy paws!? Most venues will have private grounds which are sole use but it can be worth an ask if it looks busy when you visit for a tour.
Wish list country house wedding venues
I’m not going to lie, I have some wish list country house venues I would love to shoot weddings at in the future, especially as I will soon be based in Devon. If you are planning a wedding at any of these venues I would love to hear from you. I would love to hear about any Country House wedding you are planning though
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