Ok so I now realise that I have done this a little bit backwards but nevermind! Last week I told you all about the food and drink that Callum and I have chosen. I did not however tell you anything about our actual venue! I guess that because we have talked about it so much and spent so many weekends helping out there, that I assumed by now, every man and his dog knew we were getting married at Peppers!
So after getting engaged, working out the guest list and part way through organising our budget, we had to start thinking about where we wanted to get married. Having only been to two weddings in my life, I have had limited but differing experiences. One of my best friends wedding’s was quite traditional and was in beautiful hotel with gardens for photographs and the other was my mum’s which was unconventional but brilliant! They got married at a registry office overlooking the sea, then dinner and a football game (the groom and his sons being avid Blackpool fans!) and finally ending in a huge party with loads of dancing and pick and mix at the cricket club! So obviously the possibilities are endless.
Callum and I both knew that we definitely did not want to get married in a church but that was the extent of our initial thoughts so didn’t narrow it down much. Having family and close friends dotted all over from Lancashire to Norfolk, Kent to Ireland and an array of other countries, we also found it difficult to decide where we wanted the wedding to take place! There was no one place which would suit everyone so considering the majority of our guests (albeit no family) were in London and the south east, I started my search of local venues around Tunbridge Wells. Every single place I found was instantly shot down by Callum, as having lived in the area for a while, he had inevitably been to an 18th Birthday there or a prom etc etc. I thought about all the wedding venues in my local area but to be honest, I felt the same.. I was a waitress at weddings for a little while and had seen tons of weddings at these venues which put me off. I started to get deflated and had to move my search further out which meant finding beautiful barns and country houses that had literally no connection to us! I found it a bit bizarre having to ask guests to travel for hours to somewhere with no meaning or relevance. So our search kind of fizzled out!
Over the course of a few months we decided on lots of things we didn’t want;
– To be restricted on people
– The party ending at 11pm with evening guests barely making an appearance
– Huge bar costs which means people can’t afford to enjoy themselves
– Really expensive accommodation
– A formal 3 course meal
– People to feel uncomfortable in a more formal environment
Basically we didn’t want a hotel and just hadn’t realised it yet. I guess I always assumed I would get married in a gorgeous hotel or country house type place but hadn’t thought about the detail- just the photographs. The experience was our number 1 priority and a venue wouldn’t give us what we personally wanted. We started to get worried that we would never find anywhere which was when Callum’s parents came up with a suggestion..
They were looking to buy a house in Suffolk or Norfolk and they really wanted it to have a little bit of land and if at all possible, a barn! I was SO excited! This meant no formal venue, no expensive bar, we were in control of the venue and the party could go on all night if we wanted! Little did we know that this hunt for a house would go on for months and months! Each time they found something, Cal and I would look at pictures, get excited and then it would fall through. My personal favourite was a pink, chocolate box cottage with a thatched roof and a barn for us to get married in! Unfortunately it was not meant to be. As time went on, we again thought we were going to be left venueless but Ash (Callum’s dad) promised us that they would find somewhere. I can’t imagine the pressure this put them under. I mean having now been through the process of buying a house twice, to have a time limit for your first born’s wedding to be held there is a little crazy (Sorry Annie and Ash!)
Luckily in April 2016 that all changed and the Wood’s moved into Peppers which is a cottage in the little village of East Harling in Norfolk. Previously owned by the lovely Juliet who’s children also got married there (so she was thrilled to find out we would be doing the same.) She gifted us a crystal glass with H&C engraved on it (her parents initials) and it suddenly felt like this was exactly how it was supposed to be. I am a strong believer in fate (as well as problem solving!) and everything was finally coming together..
Now, I realise that thus far the cottage sounds like an absolute dream.. However, there was a little work to be done before the wedding. Ok ALOT of work to be done! When we first went to visit, Callum and I walked around the garden and thought to ourselves, ‘Erm is a marquee for 100+ people actually going to fit in here?’ Quite simply, there was nowhere near the acre of land they claimed to have bought and I went into (another) panic. When we told Annie and Ash that fitting a marquee in was an impossible task they got us to put our wellies on and guided us to the back of the garden. Like the actual back. We went through So. Many. Trees. So. Many. Bushes. It was literally like Narnia. It wa then that they decided to break the news to us, our task was to clear the garden in order to make room. Now I am not talking mowing the lawn and moving some soil. I am talking about ripping out bushes by the root and chopping down trees, taking out cement pillars and walls then getting rid of multiple skips full of rubbish (that had been hidden their by an ex gardener!)
We spent every weekend at Peppers sleeping on blow up beds and eating food cooked on a camp stove. We were working in the garden lugging around trees in the rain from 7am until it went dark. It was a mammoth job! We roped in all the cousins to help too but the satisfaction when it was finished was so incredible. To see before and after photographs and know that we had done all of that for the wedding was a great feeling (after we stopped aching!)
Now that we had a venue, we could work on filling it with everything else we needed..
Team Bride’s Gravy- 39
Team Groom’s Beans- 23
With only 7 days left to get all RSVP’s in!