CHOOSING OUR WEDDING VENUE |UK WEDDING BLOG

facebook-profile-picture By Emily
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Image | Cotton Candy Photography

I’m very happy to announce that Ben and I have finally accomplished that most essential of wedding tasks: booking a venue! After quite a few months of dithering, we’ve just put a deposit down at The Perch, a gorgeous historic riverside pub in Oxford, for August 2016.

While it took us some time to finalize our decision—planners we are not—I think from the time we started looking into venues (yes, all the way back in August… we’re the worst) The Perch was always going to be it. While Ben and most of our UK guests live in London, we met in Oxford—we even went to an Oxford pub for our first date—and love going back to visit when I’m in the UK. We’re especially fond of Oxford’s many green areas, and Port Meadow, adjacent to The Perch, is a special spot for us. It didn’t hurt that the week we got engaged this past July we attended an awesome Oxford pub wedding, which got me wondering whether The Perch, a favorite from my time studying at Oxford, might do weddings too. A quick Google not only informed me that it does but also turned up photos from these two lovely Perch weddings, which further convinced me that I might be on to something good.

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Image | The Perch

It also turned out, after cutting some fantasy London venues that turned out to be way out of our price range, that The Perch was the only place to make our shortlist that I’d ever been to—and given that I was stuck in New York and unable to join Ben on any of the venue visits he very kindly undertook at my request, that ended up being a bigger factor in the decision than perhaps it should have. Great as Ben was about taking weekend time to scout out various options, asking the many questions I put together, and taking photos for me, there’s nothing like being there yourself. And I couldn’t, which was hard not only in terms of making an informed choice but also because it felt like we were missing out on one of the quintessential engaged couple bonding experiences.

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Image | The Perch

When we began our search we were hoping to find something in London, but there weren’t a ton of places that fit our criteria: good outdoor space, with countryside feel preferred (my thing); room for 100 guests (Ben’s thing); laid-back; reachable without a car; moderately priced. I really didn’t want the kind of sleek, urban indoor venue that seems to dominate the London wedding scene. And venues, at least in the southeast, tend to be appallingly expensive. I’d never thought much about weddings before I started planning mine and had very little sense of what things cost—especially in the UK—and looking into prices for various wedding vendors was a rude awakening. There are some fabulously luxurious wedding spots out there, to be sure, and I absolutely understand why some of them cost what they do, but the reality of our situation was such that we really couldn’t consider venues with fees—not including catering—of £7,000, £10,000, and even £14,00.

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Image | The Perch

We did find a few possibilities we liked in London and even came close to booking one, but in the end our personal connection to The Perch won out despite its being less convenient. I do feel a bit bad about that, especially since we’re having a Sunday wedding—because we’re having a Jewish ceremony, we’re not able to get married on a Saturday—but ultimately it is our wedding, and I think as an engaged couple we’re entitled to put our own wants and needs first in making wedding decisions (within reason, of course—I wouldn’t ask our London-based crowd to travel to, say, Yorkshire for our wedding, or anywhere very difficult to get to without a car as most of our guests won’t have easy access to one).

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Image | The Perch

So, The Perch. Though it’s only a short walk from central Oxford, The Perch feels like it’s out in the country. I’d be hard pressed to think of a more delightful space for an English summer wedding, and the pub’s history—according to Wikipedia, it’s been in existence for 800 (!) years and has links to such literary luminaries as Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, and Gerard Manley Hopkins—is right up our alley, especially as we’ve both studied literature at Oxford. The food (and especially the alcohol—it is, after all, a pub) should be great, and there’s a permanent, cosily decorated marquee set up for weddings and events. This is a big plus as it saves us the hassle and expense of having to book our own just for the day. Ben had a great venue visit, and so far the management have been great about accommodating our special requests, from letting us hold our ceremony on site—since we’re having a Jewish wedding, we don’t have to use a licensed venue, and, if the weather’s good, will also be able to have an outdoor ceremony—to sourcing an all-organic menu. Though I can’t say I have no second thoughts—as you may have gathered from my dress decision post, I am a champion second-guesser—I know we’ll have an amazing day at The Perch.

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Image | Cotton Candy Photography

Anyone else recently settled on a venue, or currently in the process of choosing one? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences!