This spring there are an abundance of weddings taking place in the West Country as city folk return to their roots or Londoners choose the SouthWest as their ideal location for saying, “I do”. It seems our area is growing incredibly in popularity and as it does, the choice for venues expands too.
There are a plethora of unique settings dotted around Devon, Cornwall and Wiltshire which enable many brides and grooms to have the bespoke wedding of their dreams. In my search for the most innovative I came across a celebrity endorsed venue that provides the ultimate reception experience.
We’re all familiar with Hugh Fernley Whittingstall and River Cottage as his love of the good life is something we all aspire to. Recently he’s lead a campaign to save our seas as he has travelled around the country raising awareness of fishing techniques that deplete our marine life and damage our sea beds in his series, “Hugh’s Fish Fight”.
There’s actually another side to River Cottage that isn’t as well known, as it only launched last year. Now lovers of the good life can have their wedding ceremony in the barn, and enjoy a custom made wedding and reception from this idyllic location.
What exactly can a couple expect when choosing River Cottage as their venue? I did a little digging to see just how different this setting was and being a farm girl at heart I was pleasantly surprised as it exceeded my expectations.
Here’s our guide to wedding planning in the SouthWest
Bespoke Wedding Breakfasts where the Ingredients take Centre Stage
The menu has been created by Hugh, following his philosophy of making the ingredients centre stage of the plate. Good, hearty, peasant food that exudes simplicity but tastes great! Because River Cottage sources fresh local produce that is in season, they ensure their menu is flexible. They actually work with the bride and groom to create new dishes or to transform classic Whittingstall ones to bring a bespoke menu to guests. The chef will introduce your meal describing its provenance and how it has been prepared before you tuck in. You might have decided upon Lyme Bay crab and freshly baked sourdough breads followed by one of our own lambs, spit-roast with Moroccan inspired barley salad, stuffed courgette flowers and edible flowers picked from the garden that morning.
It’s a Good Life!
Tying the knot at River Cottage would not suit the likes of Katie Price or Joan Collins, as although every bride has looked spectacularly beautiful they’ve all had one thing in common, an innate down to earth quality that allows them to appreciate the free things in everyday life.
For example, when you book your wedding here, you are given the entire site for a day, so you can happily meet all the farm animals after you’ve said I do. The organisers will also ensure guests are entertained as you have your photographs taken, with activities such as a well wanging competition, a treasure hunt or even ferret racing.
There’s an air of luxury surrounding the farm though as champagne flows and string quartets and brass bands provide an opulent theme tune to the day, while freshly picked flowers are dotted around, providing the quintessential setting for afternoon tea.
It’s certainly a setting that promotes informality and fun, as guests sit all together and share food and laughs over the communal table. When the feast is over, everyone has a chance to toast beetroot and marshmallows over open coals in the Yurt, while enjoying some brandy soaked chocolate truffles.
This is when the barn is transformed into a large dancehall, ready for everyone to boogie the night away to music of your choice. A Caleigh band is ideal for this setting, however there’s no reason why a touch of Dolly Parton wouldn’t go down well too!
An Exclusive Offer from Hugh for Our Valued Readers!
Right now, River Cottage and Hugh are also giving our readers an exclusive offer where every guest of your wedding, when choosing this for your venue, receives a free glass of sparkling elderflower wine; just let them know where you read about them when making an enquiry.
This of course, is just one of the unique venues that the SouthWest offers, yet it’s not the unusual settings that draw people from the city to here, it’s the ambience, the landscapes, the friendliness and the more relaxed way of life.
City to Country
Theresa Mulchrone is a Vidal Sassoon hairdresser; she trained in the famous academy itself and became famed for her skills of following the Vidal ethos of creating manageable hair that suits the individual’s lifestyle. As she’s recently moved back to Sidmouth following some years living in York, she’s taken the freelance route and is already run off her feet.
Initially, she didn’t think the Vidal method would work for brides as Vidal Sassoon became as popular as he would deliver amazing styles that customers could manage themselves. He would listen intently to every client, learning their daily routine, in order to deliver a style that didn’t need hours in front of the mirror or an army of products to look amazing every day.
Theresa, of course, follows on from this, working with the natural structure of the hair and giving her customers results that they can enjoy for longer than one day, yet now she’s finding many London brides to be are contacting her for their one big day!
The most interesting link between these brides is that although they live in the centre of London, and embrace city life, they’ve chosen to step outside into the West Country to tie the knot.
The Reasons Why Londoners Tie the Knot in the South West
The reasons differ, with one telling Theresa, “the West Country is much more romantic and relaxing and emulates just how I’d like my marriage to feel in amongst the city chaos, as if being the eye of the storm, my own private retreat from the world,”
While another, decided on the West Country for a much less romantic reason, claiming that, “London weddings are trendy and modern but trying to find a place to park for guests is a nightmare, not to mention negotiating traffic to travel to the reception. The hotel prices can be huge too, especially in the summer and I’d like to know every guest can afford to stay and dance the night away!”
Our Pick of the Best in the South West
Whatever the reason for choosing our home for their weddings, we welcome them with open arms and suggest our pick of the best venues:
- River Cottage HQ
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre for an audience with the bride and groom!
- The Penny Lane for a wedding on a barge on the River Avon!
- The Cary Arms, Torquay for the perfect English Riviera wedding by the sea
- Portland Castle for when you deserve to be a princess for the day.