Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Wedding Wednesday | Northants Venues

Updated Pinspiration, clockwise from left: Star Garland Decorations // Gold Cutlery and Greenery // Winter Decorations That Don't Scream Christmas // Wintry Berry Flowers // Hanging Leafy Wreath

Shortly after I wrote my last Wedding Wednesday entry, I had to cancel my appointment at Stanford Hall. We do our best to keep negativity off these pages (there's enough elsewhere in the world), but I had such disinterested, slapdash communication from them I had to cancel. Especially when they quoted £12k for hire without food - even if I did have that kind of money to spare, I wouldn't spend it with people who couldn't seem to care less. More on budget next week, because that is a post in itself...!

On with a positive note - the two venues I did see: Dodmoor House and Dodford Manor. Just a few miles between them and often confused (well the names are quite similar), we saw one after the other last Saturday in my home county of Northamptonshire. Just for for the benefit of any brides looking at these venues, I thought I'd do a mini review of both (spoiler alert: we didn't pick either immediately, but we haven't taken them off the list either. Confused? Us too)...

All images - Dodmoor House
Dodmoor House is a gorgeous country property comprising of a house (private), two barns (for venue hire exclusively) and a courtyard. Just a stone's throw from the canal and apple trees lining the path to the house, it really is incredibly picturesque and perfect for a country wedding!

Mark, the owner, met with us and could not have been nicer or more accommodating. He was keen to stress flexibility in almost all areas (although it was clear there was a formula that worked for the venue). We liked his enthusiastic approach, and saw no hard-sell whatsoever - it was a great attitude, especially for our first venue. He was hands-on without being pushy, and I felt I could really trust him and his team to pull off a great day.

They had a wedding that day, so it was nice to see the venue in-situ and get an idea of what could be done re. decorations etc, and how the space could be utilised. It would be a squeeze with our 70-80 people guestlist, but it looked cosy (perfect for Winter, right)? It was all going perfectly until I realised that I didn't really feel any great spark - no "I can see myself here", no real great affinity with it. My boyfriend husband-to-be (good Lord) thought it was lovely and looked at me like I was mental, probably quite rightly so. I never thought a 'spark' or whatever would bother me particularly, but I didn't get a strong gut feeling on it. It's very popular locally, so I'm sure I'm probably alone in this. We had a warm welcome and goodbye, and an invitation to look round for as long as we liked on our own to discuss ideas.

Beautiful location
Easy to find
Fantastic, friendly team
Attention to detail (showing us photos of Winter weddings, and even suggesting ideas for name tags on tables!)
No daytime corkage fee
Flexible on almost everything
Bridal suite available
Fast and personal email communication

Ever so slightly too small for our number - if we hit 80, it'd be a squeeze
We worried about the mezzanine in the barn, and if people would feel segregated
No overwhelming happy feeling to be there - just neutral
Not amazingly cheap, considering our plans for a weekday wedding in December

Verdict: We'll come back at a later date after looking at a few other potentials.

All images - Dodford Manor
We drove a couple of miles down the road to Dodford Manor. Here we had just two barns and a courtyard right next to the church and much bigger than Dodmoor. We met Rachel, who whisked us round both barns (one for a ceremony/post-church drinks, and the other for reception). We were blown away by the ceremony barn, with a glass floor-to-ceiling window facing out to the fields, giving you a gorgeous view. 

Rachel was friendly and professional but a bit quick for us (perhaps she was used to seeing people who knew the venue thing inside and out, but as newbies it all felt quite rushed). After the initial introduction, we were given some tea and biscuits and a few menus to look through. Rachel stressed that we could tailor the menu to us, yet the further we were there the more I found that this was very much an all inclusive approach. 

Photographers, bands, florists, caterers - all recommended, and in the case of caterers, completely set. We'd already got a good idea of the caters we'd like (ok, I had a good idea, but they're really good!!), so I really didn't like the idea of just going with the set caterer, no matter how good they were.

I found the approach to bands strange too. We talked about how it'd be a fairly multicultural affair as my boyfriend husband-to-be (don't make me say fiancée, ick ick ick) is Greek Cypriot and we'd like a Greek band, and they said they'd have to have the band play for them before approving them. This just sounded crazy to us - we're not playing death metal, but even if you were - it should be your day, your way, right?

Felt impressive
Beautiful views
Sweeping drive (great for car enthusiast other half)
Could see ourselves there
Award winning caterers (even if they wouldn't be who we'd choose)
Great email communication
No daytime corkage fee

Didn't have the same soul as Dodmoor - felt a bit empty in places
All inclusive approach (not so hot for a DIY girl like me)
Again, not amazingly cheap
No wedding night facilities
Felt like just another couple
Restrictions on decorations and music

Verdict: We'll come back at a later date... again, after looking elsewhere.

It sounds crazy, but we almost felt we wanted the view and space of Dodford combined with the friendliness, flexibility and warmth of Dodmoor. Separately, we just found too much that wasn't right with both - although not enough to rule them out complete. In short, we're totally stumped. The only solution? I guess we'll just keep looking...

See you next week for a lengthy post on budgeting... hang on to your hats...! ;)


1 comment

  1. Exciting times for you both! When you find THE venue, you will know xxxxx


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