My mum always said that “Only a Castle would be good enough for Jackie” and she was right! She knew me so very well. She totally understood my Champagne taste, after all I inherited it from her!
I grew up only a few miles away from the fabulous Peckforton Castle and for me it was the perfect venue for my wedding day. It was fairly local for my guests and still is, so very majestic and grand. I'd never really thought about my wedding day growing up. I was never a girl who had dreamt of her princess wedding since the age of three. But what I did know was that this was a once in a lifetime celebration and as always, I wanted to do it "Properly".
I wanted a WOW wedding. I wanted a wedding venue where I could get married and have the wedding breakfast without the guests having to travel. I didn't want them getting lost, having the problem of where to park or worrying about who to get a lift with. I wanted it to be as easy as possible for them. On paper, Peckforton castle was perfect. I'd googled my heart out and already knew that we were able to have a wedding ceremony in the Great Hall, be blessed in the chapel just across the lawn afterwards and then straight back into the main castle for the wedding breakfast afterwards. My guests were paramount for me. I wanted them to be able to relax and enjoy the whole day from start to finish so being a hotel too was ideal. It gave travelling relatives and those that wanted to enjoy the bar a place to stay too. I must admit I was also attracted by the fact you could move on to the wine cellar after the main party had finished. As a wedding guest myself I always felt gutted when I had to leave a cracking party at 12:00 midnight. It's far too early!
I spent an age drooling over other peoples weddings pictures at Peckforton. They all looked so perfect. But what I found quite intimidating is that the prices were not displayed on their website. How was I supposed to know if I could even afford it? When you see the likes of Premier League footballers getting wed there I knew it wasn’t going to be Prosecco prices!
I plucked up the courage and booked a tour of the castle. I’d been there many times before as a child but not since it had been renovated into a hotel and of course my dream wedding venue. We were shown around the castle by Mr Naylor himself. We looked into the accommodation, restaurants and then the 3 different halls and rooms which you could choose to get married in. It was perfect! I’d whispered to my to my fiancé after only a few minutes that I didn’t even want to look at another place, this was it! Now for the price……
We didn’t have a set date in mind. We just knew that we wanted to do it quickly as a close family member was seriously ill and we wanted them to be a part of the day whilst they were able to be. Mr Naylor explained how if we were to do it at short notice, they would reduce the price. If we got married on a weekday, it would be cheaper again. I was so surprised. Here was my dream wedding venue being offered at a discounted price too good to refuse. We booked the wedding for 12 weeks time for a Thursday in April at over £10k cheaper than a Saturday in August. And guess what? We had the most amazing weather too!
What advice would I give when booking a venue?
Do your research. Find out exactly what’s included in the venue’s packages so you can use them for comparison.
Be flexible with dates if you can. Winter mid week weddings can save you a lot of money. If you can do it at short notice, there’s a good chance it will be cheaper too. They would rather have the business than leave the place empty. They still have electricity bills to pay empty or not!
Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or extras. Even after we had booked the wedding I approached our venue and asked them if they could help out with the canapes at the drinks reception. They threw them in free for 70 people!
Ask if your venue has recommended suppliers. I’’m so glad I did this as ours had special wide chairs and there was only one company who did seat covers that fitted. Luckily they were the cheapest too!
Sample the food menu. We didn’t do a food tasting and to be perfectly honest, I would have changed most of the food if I had tasted it first although our guests all seemed happy!
Check out the rules for bringing in your own suppliers. We had lighting suppliers, videographer, string quartet and singer who all had to have their own relevant insurances before they were allowed to work on the day.
Check if the venue will allow you to decorate yourselves. We were lucky that none of the rooms were in use the day before our wedding so we were allowed to decorate the tables etc the night before otherwise it would have been a 3am start the morning of the wedding!
Check if your venue has any restrictions. I really wanted fireworks but couldn’t have them due to the location. We also had to have their resident DJ who wouldn’t have been my first choice for our day.
So that's my top tips for choosing a wedding venue. I'm sure there are many many more things to consider too but these were things I'd place high up in order of importance.
Watch out for my next blog post all about choosing my wedding dress...It didn't all go according to plan!