FAQs and expert advice about venues

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Devon and Cornwall Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@yourdevoncornwall.wedding

 

'Tis the season

'Tis the season

Q. What's the best season to get married?

A. Simon Daukes says: Meet the expert: Simon Daukes is the owner of The Ash Barton Estate located in Braunton, North Devon.

Simon says: We're all familiar with the tradition of the summer bride, and it's still the most popular and expensive season to get married. However, more couples are opting for spring, autumn or even late-winter weddings.

Spring – March, April and May
Spring officially starts in March and with its association of new beginnings, it seems like the perfect time to tie the knot and start your new life together. There are also two bank holidays and an Easter weekend at this time of the year, which means you could enjoy a long weekend of celebrations. During this season, the gardens of venues spring into life - wildflower meadows burst into colour, hanging baskets spill over with bright blooms and pink blossom covers the trees - so outdoor wedding photographs are definitely on the cards. Flowers for your bouquets are also more available with anemones, marigolds, and lily of the valley all in bloom. Daffodils are a bright and budget-friendly option to decorate the tables with. When it comes to a colour theme, look to Easter for inspiration with pretty pastels including pink, yellow and blue for bridesmaids dresses and flowers and table decorations. Or keep it fresh and natural with green and white throughout. If you're getting married near the Easter weekend, bowls of sugar-coated chocolate eggs make great favours and an Easter egg hunt on the grounds of the venue is always popular with the little ones. The evenings are lighter at this time of the year, and the days are fresh but often sunny, but it can rain a lot too. If you're opting for an outdoor wedding, make sure you can bring the ceremony inside at the last minute if there's a sudden spring shower.

Summer – June, July and August If you're yearning for an outdoor wedding, the summer months are when you're more likely to enjoy glorious sunshine and warm days and evenings. Getting married in the open air surrounded by friends and family is so romantic. But while you may be happy to stand in the sun while you exchange your vows, not all your guests will be so choose an outdoor venue that offers some shade too, such as a tree or parasols. Nothing screams summer like a glass of Pimm's served in the garden as guests arrive alongside chilled fizz. Remember to have jugs of water available as well to keep everyone hydrated. A traditional sit-down three-course wedding breakfast may feel too much when the temperature is high so opt for something more laid-back like a barbecue, hog roast or a buffet of fresh salad, cheese and cold meats followed by ice cream for dessert. A summer wedding is a perfect time to indulge in colour. Think bright red, fizzy orange, fuchsia pink and aqua blue. Big, bold flowers like hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, cosmos, lilies, roses and sunflowers are all in bloom at this time - mix them with palm leaves for a tropical look.

Autumn – September, October and November Autumn is a beautiful season in which to get married when the leaves on the trees turn orange and red, and the days are cooler. September can be pleasantly mild, and Britain often experiences an Indian summer, making this month a popular choice for couples. By the end of October, and into November, there'll be a chill in the air so it's best to host the ceremony and celebrations indoors. With Halloween and bonfire night at this time of the year, you can have fun with your theme, decorations, and catering. Opt for traditional warm colours like russet, burnt orange and honey for your bouquet and decorations. Many flowers are still available at this time of the year so mix them with foliage, berries and even pumpkins for an autumnal feel. Serve a hearty wedding breakfast with local seasonal ingredients and because it's close to bonfire night, gather your guests around a firepit roasting marshmallows served with hot chocolate (or something stronger!) Finish your celebrations with fireworks and sparklers.

Winter - December, January, February Winter weddings are becoming more popular, especially those that are held in the build-up to Christmas and New Year. With Christmas on the horizon, venues look magical decorated with fairylights and candles and everyone is in the party spirit. Combine your wedding with Christmas celebrations and serve mulled wine to guests as they arrive followed by turkey with all the trimmings. The temperature will be nippy but if you're lucky, you may see some winter sun or even a smattering of snow on the ground which always makes for beautiful pictures. The key is to ensure the venue is warm and cosy for guests and if there's an open fire somewhere, use it. Keep your bridesmaids warm with stylish pashminas that can easily be slipped off for the pictures and pop a pile of blankets and throws into a basket and let guests help themselves if they feel chilly. What about the other winter months? Getting married in January gives everyone something to look forward to and suppliers are less likely to be busy at this time of the year. Hopefully, your guests will be happy to give up their dry January or new year's health kick for your wedding day. Getting married during February, especially around Valentine's Day, is a romantic time to tie the knot and the first shoots of spring are just beginning to show.

Simon Daukes,The Ash Barton Estate
www.ashbarton.com

 

Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

Q. We're considering having a micro wedding – can you give us some ideas and advice?

A. Joanna Pisko-Szczepura says: Meet the expert: Joanna Pisko-Szczepura is the owner of Brickhouse Vineyard, a venue designed with small weddings in mind based in Mamhead, Exeter. Joanna says: Small, perfectly formed and individual is how we'd sum up the magic of a micro wedding. We love hosting romantic, personal (and often emotional) intimate affairs. The benefits include a day often filled with a more intense feeling of love and commitment than you sometimes get with the larger celebrations, with every guest present being emotionally invested in the day. As couples feel more confident to make it personal and reflective of their relationship through the vows that they say to each other, this is more often than not reflected in their styling and catering choices. What's more, small weddings are nimble and can be arranged at relatively short notice, meaning planning is fun and exciting from start to finish and can be kept within budget.

Hosting a smaller wedding ceremony and celebration means more freedom for couples to create the day they want. Wedding traditions can be followed or replaced with new ones. Maybe the mother-of-the-bride is asked to make a speech after dinner, or the bride has the family dog walking down the aisle with her. The meal could be street food-style, reflecting experiences from the couples' travels, or a gourmet picnic, afternoon tea or a traditional roast dinner.

Wow-factor floral arrangements, a statement cake and a great selection of music are all still possible at micro weddings. Some of the most beautiful days in terms of look and feel have been small celebrations because couples spend more on the details because they have fewer guests to pay for so their budget can stretch further.

Brickhouse Vineyard is a very special place for micro weddings. It's located just 20 minutes from Exeter in idyllic countryside and tranquil woodlands in a magical setting. The thatched Round House has been restored to its former glory and now benefits from a natural bridal aisle leading through the wildflower meadow boasting panoramic views across the vineyard to the rolling hills beyond. It's a beautiful building that needs very little added in terms of décor yet it provides a blank canvas for couples who wish to make it their own by adding flowers, accessories and props. The barn sat behind the Round House is currently under renovation to provide a dedicated indoor dining space.

The team host elopement and intimate weddings for between 2 and 60 people. This can be on a ceremony-only or celebration-only basis or a combined ceremony and celebration booking. The relatively lower cost of a micro wedding compared with a larger one is an advantage for some couples because they can spend more per head on food and drink and it opens up options that would not be available to larger groups. For example, a group of 15 local chefs can prepare a bespoke seven-course tasting menu using top-quality ingredients accompanied by fine wine. The team can recommend a list of great local wedding suppliers.

Finally, another deciding factor is that the season becomes less important with smaller weddings because they're less weather-reliant.

Joanna Pisko-Szczepura,Brickhouse Vineyard
www.brickhousevineyard.co.uk

 

Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

Q. We're considering having a micro wedding – can you give us some ideas and advice?

A. Clare Fortescue says: Meet the expert: Clare Fortescue runs Boconnoc Cornwall with her sister, Sarah, and mother, Elizabeth. It's a beautiful country estate located in the South East of the region available for exclusive-use weddings, events and retreats, as well as restorative holidays with guests staying in the main house and on-site cottages.

Clare says: Couples are falling in love with the micro wedding trend so reacting to the growing demand for intimate celebrations, Boconnoc Cornwall is now offering wedding packages for between 15 and 30 guests. Our wedding team predict that these special gatherings may be around for some time to come, regardless of lifted restrictions. So many couples have decided to have a more intimate celebration whether or not restrictions are lifted so we think that 2020 made people realise that smaller weddings do have their advantages.

Here at Boconnoc Cornwall, we have loved planning our intimate wedding packages over the past six months and have surprised ourselves, and our clients, with the magic that we're able to create. From starlit tractor-trailer rides around the estate, champagne presented in a marble ice bath in the woods, cosy welcome feasts, intimate firework displays and wine and cheese tastings, these smaller celebrations are very special.

Wedding planner Jenny from Jenny Wren events in Cornwall tells us that many couples find that with a larger budget per head, intimate celebrations lend themselves perfectly to bespoke soirees, finished with personal touches. Couples can spend quality time with each guest – perhaps the most compelling reason for the surge in popularity of micro weddings.

At Boconnoc Cornwall, our new intimate wedding offering caters for groups of up to 30 people. Guests are treated to a two-night stay with everyone sleeping on-site in the main house and the surrounding cottages. They will experience understated luxury in cosy, stylish bedrooms and couples can plan a full weekend of food and celebrations – and a chance to explore the beaches, woodland and deer park surrounding the estate with their nearest and dearest.

There are several choices of locations for the ceremony. For those wanting a church wedding, the stunning 800-year-old on-site church is idyllic. There's also the option of a civil or humanist ceremony in the main house, the Georgian Bathhouse, the Dorothy Garden or even down on the expansive lawns. Wedding feasts can be set up in the Smoking Room, or, for a more relaxed setting, guests can sit at trestle tables outside by the firepits watching the sunset. After dark, the wedding party can settle in with a nightcap by the fire, or turn up the music and dance under the stars.

Clare Fortescue,Boconnoc Estate
www.boconnoc.com/weddings

 

Beautifully packaged

Beautifully packaged

Q. We're looking at booking a wedding package – what can we expect to be included?

A. Cat Richards-Kastelic says: Cat says: Wedding packages can vary from venue to venue. At Ashridge Court, we offer hire of The Great Barn and have just created an intimate wedding package priced from just £1,750. It has been designed for between 15 and 30 guests (and is pet-friendly) and includes, but is not limited to, the following:

- 36-hour access to the barn for set-up the afternoon before the wedding

- Catering from selected suppliers including Oaktree Occasions, Fig & Smoke Event Catering and Joe Dibley Chef

- Cake for between 15 and 30 guests from Diana Dench Creative Cakes

- Bouquets and buttonholes for the bridal party (table décor can also be added) from Catkin Blooms, Bluebells Bespoke Floral Design or Divine Flowers

- Rustic-style furniture to seat between 15 and 30 people

- Hire of the barn decorated with seasonal arrangements

- Access to the rustic-inspired prop collection

- On-the-day coordination service

- Support with planning in the run-up to the wedding

Cat Richards-Kastelic,Ashridge Great Barn
www.ashridge-court.co.uk

 

Home from home

Home from home

Q. We're planning a wedding in Devon and want to book a venue where we can invite our loved ones to spend the entire weekend with us and have a house party-style celebration. Where do you suggest?

A. Hannah Evans says: Meet the expert: Hannah Evans is the joint owner of Hallsannery with her husband Charles. It was closed in 2012 for refurbishment where it was restored to its former glory as a late Georgian, early Victorian property and reopened in 2013 as a wedding venue and holiday destination.

Hannah says: Why not consider hiring a large house where your loved ones can gather for a weekend (or even a week) and where there aren't the restrictions that many wedding venues impose? That way, you can create a home away from home atmosphere and host an informal, intimate celebration. Hallsannery House located just outside of Bideford and approximately five miles from the sandy shores of the North Devon coast offers an exclusive, flexible wedding venue. With 11 en suite bedrooms and a sumptuous Bridal Suite home to a four-poster bed and roll-top bath, the property offers plenty of spaces for wedding celebrations including three reception rooms (one with a fire), a dining room featuring a glistening chandelier that's ideal for the wedding breakfast, a farmhouse kitchen large enough for a group brunch or lunch, an indoor and outdoor games room, and even a tennis court.

With a choice of indoor and outdoor ceremony locations and a selection of gorgeous spots for big-day photographs, this Grade II listed manor house provides an elegant backdrop for a house partystyle wedding. It can be themed for weddings in all seasons - think twinkling candles and a roaring fire in winter, and flower-filled gardens and croquet on the lawn in summer. Keeping everything under one roof is simple and budget friendly because most things are included and there's no corkage fee.

Hannah Evans
www.hallsannery.co.uk

 

The great outdoors

The great outdoors

Q. We want to find a place in Devon where we can plan a relaxed, festivalstyle blessing outdoors and create the day we want without the restrictions of a more formal wedding venue. Where do you suggest?

A. Ian & Nicky says: Meet the experts: Ian and Nicky Richards are the owners of Little Oak Meadow located in Colyton, East Devon. The couple decided to follow their dream and open it to the public as a wedding venue after being inspired by their own daughter's wedding. It's a lovingly maintained site with plenty of options for celebrations.

Ian and Nicky say: Little Oak Meadow is situated in a private, secluded location with plenty of possibilities for an outdoor celebration. We offer couples and their guests overnight glamping accommodation in tipis, yurts or bell tents. This means that a wedding can be a weekend affair rather than lasting just one day. If you're feeling adventurous, you're more than welcome to bring your own tent, campervan, caravan or motorhome for a rural wedding retreat. We are very relaxed, so whatever your requirements we will listen and help create your dream day. Unlike other wedding venues in Devon, we don't offer a standard wedding package. Instead, we build them specifically tailored according to your needs and requirements, resulting in a beautiful wedding in the Devonshire countryside that you and your guests will never forget.

Ian & Nicky
www.littleoakmeadow.co.uk

 

Food, glorious food

Food, glorious food

Q. We're looking to marry in Cornwall and want a flexible venue where we can help to create the menu. Where do you recommend?

A. Rosemarne Manor says: Meet the expert: Cyril Eustice is the joint owner of Rosewarne Manor, a function venue and restaurant located in Hayle, Cornwall.

Cyril says: Choosing a family-owned wedding venue is key to getting a personal service and it's also important to consider choosing a restaurant over a hotel to really get a say in your menu. We don't offer set packages, instead every couple creates their own one resulting in them paying only for what they need. All weddings held here have the opportunity to create a bespoke menu with up to four different options in each course, plus a child's meal. We are also happy to include your favourite dish.

Our most popular dessert option is the platter of cocktail desserts where each guest can sample five mini ones.

Buffets are also an informal option for the main meal or evening reception, with everything being baked on our premises.

We can guarantee exclusivity and also add in other personal touches like a welcome drink for each guest that they can choose from the bar.

Rosemarne Manor
www.rosewarnemanor.co.uk