Andy and I had decided early on in our wedding planning that we wanted a festival theme as live music has played such a large part of our story in how we got together and remains something we love doing together. In picking a venue, we wanted somewhere that would accommodate the number of people we were hoping to invite, be informal enough to pull off the laid back festival feel and yet be formal enough for people to appreciate that the day was still a wedding. Whilst we were keen to find something rustic like a disused barn which would give us free rein on the decorating we wanted the convenience of having toilets and a kitchen to cater for our guests. It was also important for us that we kept it local – we wanted a venue which was close-by so the majority of guests didn’t have far to travel and we wanted to source things such as flowers and the cake from local people too.
I spent hours searching the internet for suitable venues and the ones that were shortlisted included (but were not limited to):
Steventon House Hotel
Frilford Golf Course
Cold Ash Barn
Milton Hill House
Loyd Lindsey Rooms
For various reasons the others we found were not suitable. The main reason for our decision to go with the Loyd Lindsay Rooms was how accommodating we found Karen and Tracey to be. Occasionally we found that other venues were either inflexible or dismissive of our ideas, presumptuous about our budget, or difficult to get hold of when we had any queries.
I have to admit, I had reservations the first time I saw the Rooms (I went to a circuit training class one Thursday evening); the main hall was as you would expect a local village hall to be – and not how I envisaged my wedding to be. At my mums insistence (they do know best after all) I organised to visit with Karen and Tracey a few weeks later on an evening before a wedding. The linings were up in the main hall and the tables were all laid out. The transformation was amazing! However, what really sold it for me was when Karen asked me what I wanted out of the venue. No one had asked us that before! There was no “This is what we do here.. you can have this or that only, this is the menu, these are the rules…” – instead Karen and Tracey listened to our ideas and came up with some of their own. The first proper meeting we had together, Karen and Tracey had printed out pictures of ideas they had seen on the internet and brought out some bits and pieces they had previously used so we could bounce off ideas together. Having already started my own scrapbook of ideas I was in heaven! From there on in I felt like they were as excited about the wedding as I was. Nothing was too much trouble and whenever I had any moments of panic they put my mind at ease.
We chose to have Corks and Canapes cater the wedding (again, it was nice to have a choice rather than be told we had to use specific caterers) and we had no menu to pick from – we were given free rein to come up with whatever we wanted. Andy sent himself on a brewery tour and Karen had no issues with sorting us out with a few barrels of our preferred ale! A few girls at work who were wedding planning were discussing menu choices and getting flustered over the lack of choice whereas with the help of Tracey and Karen I was busy building my own menu. One girl was quoted £70 per head for menu tasting and was shocked when I told her I hadn’t been asked to try our menu and neither did I want to try anything – my faith in Tracey and Karen was such that I didn’t think it was necessary to even ask! On the day the food was plentiful and the portions were generous. We opted for platters of spit roast turkey and lamb, with salmon, mixed vegetables, cous cous and potatoes and our guests loved the fact they could help themselves to as much or as little as they wanted. The waiting staff were really attentive and were continually on hand to help and yet because it was all self-serve at the table it had the laid back feel we wanted. If anything, I think people regretted how much they ate when the giant wedges of cheesecake came out! I struggled to finish it and I love my puddings! For the evening we opted for a BBQ with sausages, burgers and wedges. I heard no negatives from any of the food apart from Andy and I moaning about not having enough time to try everything – if we could do it all again we would talk less and eat more (not that I could fit any more in – perhaps I’d have asked for a doggy bag)!
Andy and I have struggled to come up with any negatives from the venue perspective of the day – Karen and Tracey went above and beyond our expectations. From the overall organisation to the physical setting up of the venue and the way in which they ran the day everything went so smoothly. Karen and Tracey added so many little touches that even I was exclaiming at things on the day – hairspray, deodorant and hair pins in the toilets for the ladies, additional props for our photo booth and keeping the cork from the first bottle of champagne popped all just made the day so much more personal for me. The biggest compliment Andy and I got on the day was that the wedding was “so us” which was exactly what we were after. We didn’t want a standard wedding at a venue where every couple gets the same choices and the same food with the same décor. We had a stunning venue in a fantastic location with all of our personal touches which made our wedding unique and so special to us. Karen and Tracey helped my scrapbook of ideas become the perfect day and I can’t recommend them enough.