Picking a venue for our Yorkshire barn wedding

facebook-profile-picture By Claire
the-normans

We were always both pretty set on the kind of wedding we wanted, even before getting engaged; we liked the idea of a venue that was a bit rustic, outdoorsy but ‘different’ (OK, I get I probably can’t really class a barn wedding as that original anymore but you get the idea).

When I went to a wedding fayre a few years ago with one of my friends (planning for her wedding, not mine) I saw a stall for Hornington Manor and instantly fell in love. It looked beautiful, set out towards York with a gorgeous house and wedding barn, and a big USP for me was that everything they did was quite sustainable and locally sourced. In the back of my mind, that was always going to be the venue I’d look at first when I got engaged.

As soon as we got engaged, I was officially on the hunt for a venue. I immediately contacted Hornington Manor to arrange a viewing, and found a few other venues we arranged viewings for too – The Normans, Sandburn Hall and Barmbyfield Barns. We’d written our guest list, and knew we needed a capacity of circa 100 for the day; after looking at the venues online confirmed we were sold on the barn idea rather than anything more traditional like a castle or hotel (too many bad carpets to contend with).

Our first viewing was at The Normans, which is set on a working farm out towards York. They have three barns that have been converted for wedding use, joined together by an external courtyard.

the-normans-courtyard

We were blown away by the ceremony barn. It’s amazing what some strategically placed fairy lights can do to an otherwise quite dilapidated building and we could instantly see ourselves getting married here. I also really liked the chairs – it’s incredible what a big deal chairs can be!

the normans 2

In an adjoining barn, they have converted cow stalls as a seating area, and then back out to the courtyard you enter the reception barn through huge oak barn doors.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous setting
  • The character means little decoration is needed
  • Enough space to keep people interested and moving around
  • Not too far from home

Cons:

  • Nowhere for people to stay onsite (there is just a cottage that sleeps 4)
  • The toilets are brought in on a portakabin
  • The outdoor elements are heavily weather dependent

Next up we went to see the much anticipated Hornington Manor. It has a beautiful courtyard when you arrive, and we were then shown into the Wedding Barn. It’s a lovely room, less ‘barn’ as it’s been renovated quite recently to look fairly modern, but a good size room with a bar and a chill out balcony, which we liked.

hornington manor

We were then taken on a tour of the Manor itself. Hornington Manor is made up of three houses, and it sleeps 46 (!). I LOVED this part of the viewing, looking round an immaculately decorated, old country home that had been renovated to the highest standard whilst still incorporating original features. Every single bedroom had it’s own bathroom, there were rolltop baths in several rooms and the house had three separate country style kitchens that were giving me major #kitchengoals.

hornington-manor-bedroom hornington manor sitting room

The house was truly stunning but it left us going away with more questions than answers. Who would be the 46 that would stay, and how would you make sure they were all getting along OK sharing a house? It was self catering, and you had to stay for two nights, so the pressure of ensuring everyone was looked after and fed and watered made this seem like a daunting prospect on top of actually having your wedding there.

Pros:

  • Beautiful home that guests would love to stay in
  • Wedding barn was well set out
  • Great surroundings and sustainability factor

Cons:

  • Sorting out all your guests into the house
  • Ceremony would have to be in the same room for that time of year (you can get married in the courtyard but that wasn’t going to suit us as we were looking for an off-season wedding)

We’d never realised how much of a concern it was thinking about where guests would stay until we’d seen our first two venues. One offered no place for guests to stay, the other almost too much (?), and we had to decide whether we would let this be an important factor to our decision making.

Next up, we went to see Barmbyfield Barns. Also close to York, but the other side of York and a lot further away from Leeds for us. The drive there alone made us a little concerned about the distance, and the barn is set off down a dark, beaten path.

The barn had been converted to a decent standard, viewing it in winter didn’t help as we really were just looking at a cold dark barn, but Barmbyfield Barns really is a DIY venue, so you have to imagine what you could do with the space. We loved the little ‘pub’ attached to the back that had a bar, log fire and a really cosy atmosphere. The ceremony room was very similar to The Normans, with fairy lights down the back, again making the room seem much more special. For a summer wedding, we could imagine this venue being great, as there is a lot of outdoor space you can make use of, but with nowhere at all to stay onsite it brought up whether we’d need wedding cars to arrive in (which we didn’t expect to need) as the bride enters the ceremony barn from outside, there is nowhere indoors to wait in as a ‘holding space’.

barmbyfield-barns barmbyfield-barns-bar

Pros:

  • More affordable barn setting that you really can add your own touch to
  • Cute pub attached for the non-dancers
  • Great outdoor areas for a summer wedding

Cons:

  • Nowhere to stay onsite or for bride to get ready
  • More effort needs to be put into the decor to give it the ‘wow’ factor

Finally, (this was all within the space of three days, FYI) we went to see Sandburn Hall. The least ‘us’ of the venues we were seeing, but at the same time I wanted to see the kind of thing we could get if we did an ‘all in’ package. We actually went for an open day but after turning up early and being turned away, it already put a negative vibe in my head. They let us walk around unaccompanied in the end, as Paddy couldn’t stay any longer as he plays football Saturday afternoons. First impressions were that it was a lovely room for a wedding. The lofty feel of the high windows and wooden beams make it a beautiful setting, and again one you could get away with doing little to because the views and the characteristics speak for themselves.

sandburn-hall sandburn hall

There is a separate room for ceremonies which we liked, and again I liked the chairs they had out (but here they offered you many types). We knew it was a great space, and think any wedding there would be lovely, but we just didn’t get a good feel for it. No one was there to answer our questions so we left knowing it wasn’t the one.

Pros:

  • All indoors
  • Gorgeous setting and characteristics
  • All catering, entertainment etc. would be taken care of

Cons:

  • Quite generic (for us, anyway)
  • It’s a golf course, so golfers would be there on your big day

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I wanted to give you quite a thorough breakdown of our venue choices so first of all you could a) understand the thought processes that go through your mind when looking at venues and b) if you’re looking for a Yorkshire barn wedding hopefully this might give you some ideas.

Based on this blog (and apologies that it’s a long one) – can you guess which one we chose?

We went with the first venue, The Normans, as the cons could all be overcome and the venue just had that wow factor for us, and we could really picture ourselves getting married there.

the-normans

Our wedding is booked for 24th March 2018, so expect further wedding planning woes over the coming weeks! (I have a back log saved just for this blog).

I also talk about my journey on my instagram, so if you want to keep up with what I’m talking about day to day, follow me @clairelstead. Thanks for reading!

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