A wedding venue to get married in the southwest of England
August 23, 2016 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm hoping that I can get some recommendations for places to get married in either Devon or Somerset in England. Me and my girlfriend are hoping to get married in March-April 2017. We have three main requirements for the venue: 1) We can hire our own caterers or have self catering 2) The cost of the venue hire excluding catering is less than £3000 3) That the ceremony and reception are in the same place 4) For the wedding venue to hold roughly/up to 150 people Also, we're having trouble finding a venue like this... is there any particular terminology for a more inexpensive choice of venue as we only seem to be able to find posh mansion/expensive manor type houses at the moment.
posted by sockpim to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Barn" might not be a bad search term.
posted by Jabberwocky at 10:29 AM on August 23, 2016

Have you started with the registry offices for the areas you're looking at? The venue needs to be licensed if you want the ceremony to happen at the same place (unless you're planning on having the legal part separately and using a celebrant for the ceremony) and each council will have their own lists of approved venues (plus the fee info for having the registrar come out, which the venue may also have their own fee for as well.)

Apparently this site should help locate the approved venues in the uk, but it is a)gov.uk (so infuriating) and b) doesn't work well on an iPad.

(I got married three months ago and we did the ceremony at the registry office and the party a couple days later, mostly for cost reasons but also because it opened up more venues for the party without the licensing requirement but we could have had a celebrant and done our own ceremony on the party day/at the party venue)
posted by halcyonday at 10:35 AM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Have you considered non-traditional venues like a friend or family member's home, a local restaurant, or a public park? Because with only six months' notice, on a budget, and with the catering setup you want, that's probably what you're realistically looking at.

Does Britain have the tradition of privately owned community halls? In the US they're usually owned by social organizations (like the American Legion, VFW, etc) or are the social epicenter of an immigrant group ("Hellenic Center", "Ukrainian Hall", etc). They're basically on the order of a private club, but for more working class people. These places, if they exist where you are, can be outstanding deals for a wedding venue.

Barns are probably not an option for you, because they are trendy now and thus charge outrageous prices. Most barn wedding venues -- at least in the US -- are traditional wedding venues for all intents and purposes. Unless you happen to know someone with an old barn and they'll let you throw a wedding there for free.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 AM on August 23, 2016

Not sure I can help with a venue even though I am attending a wedding in Devon this weekend, but I do know a good Devon-based (Hartland) photographer who is reasonably-priced if you need. MeMail me if so.
posted by terrapin at 11:03 AM on August 23, 2016

3 is your sticking point. Anywhere that has gone to the effort of getting registered as legal for weddings of this size is likely to be a large stately home or hotel; the rare community halls that might have done this are not going to be big enough for your 150 people in that part of the world. Once somewhere's set up to be a wedding venue, they are very resistant to 'cost avoidance' tactics, e.g. bringing in outside caterers, and are likely to insist on packages. If you split the ceremony out, and follow it with 'a party' rather than saying 'a wedding' (which seems to be a trigger word for extra costs), you might have a chance finding a Barn or community hall that is big enough.
posted by AFII at 11:05 AM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

The weddings I have attended in the UK have been UNESCO heritage sites or gig venues with an attached pub/restaurant (but with no obligation to hire). RHS might also be worth looking into?

A quick google gives me Cadhay which offers a walled garden wedding (from £1800; can accommodate 150 ppl). Gants Mill in Somerset seems pretty nice too and open to bringing in caterers etc.

Addendum: congrats halcyonday!
posted by kariebookish at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ugh, I forgot to add: I'd google glamping and holiday camps too, you might find one which also does events & birthdays & around Easter you might even get lucky with the weather!
posted by AFII at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2016

One thing that also works well is to ask around among people you know.

Like you and probably most people who grew up as digital natives, I'm used to being able to research almost anything online. But the wedding industry is a beast unto itself. Searching via key words produces a shit signal-to-noise ratio. You can't just google "wedding venue", sadly. Despite the sheer number of wedding websites, blogs, specialized wedding search engines, apps, etc. it can be really hard to find any useful information (especially about vendors or really anything that is going to involve an outlay of money) online.

Meanwhile, if you know married people, even people who didn't get married in Devon, or got married 10 years ago, you can mine them for ideas for stuff like this. And then you can search based on those ideas and probably have a better chance than the blind searches you're doing now. (For example: "Somerset camping" or "Somerset community center" or "Somerset event space" will turn up much more useful results than "Somerset wedding venue")
posted by Sara C. at 11:09 AM on August 23, 2016

It doesn't meet your 3rd criterion, but my wife and I just took a drive around some of the villages in our area scouting out the village halls. They're often very cheap to hire, and the one we picked had a huge field at the back where we could site a marquee and the catering.
posted by pipeski at 11:13 AM on August 23, 2016

Are all 4 of your criteria non-negotiable?

Criteria 3 is what defines the boundaries of your search since you need somewhere licensed to do the ceremony. (That's very different from the US, where you need someone licensed to perform the cermony but it can be done at any location.) Here is the list of approved venues in Somerset. Considering the stranglehold on the market, there is no reason for a registered location to allow self-cater or similar cost containment practices.

Most weddings involve some level of compromise. You and you betrothed need to sort out what is optional.
posted by 26.2 at 12:09 PM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: They are non-negotiable really. Me and my girlfriend have talked about them with one another a lot and those are the most important four points we came up with. Thank you for your recommendations of places that are similar though. It's a good place to start.
posted by sockpim at 2:26 PM on August 23, 2016

The only wedding I've been to in Devon was a church wedding on a tight budget, and the reception was in a community centre that was right on the banks of the Tamar. Googling suggests it might have been Calstock Community Centre, which mentions that a lot of people get married at the Arts Centre up the road and walk along - looks like the Arts Centre has an old chapel you can hire for weddings for £450.
posted by penguin pie at 2:35 PM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ah - looks like you can also have your reception at the Arts Centre, though it might be on the small side for you.
posted by penguin pie at 2:39 PM on August 23, 2016

Sorry - last comment - just realised it's actually in Cornwall, tho only by the river's breadth! Sorry Cornwall/Devon folk who may be reading!
posted by penguin pie at 2:45 PM on August 23, 2016

Tavistock town hall. I got married there and it was super inexpensive and gorgeous. Call the registry office. PM me with queries if useful
posted by Mistress at 3:25 AM on August 24, 2016

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