If you’re planning a barn wedding in Berkshire then it’s a fair bet that you love tradition…but with a twist.
You yearn for a setting that dates back to a more romantic era. But you don’t want to be bound by stuffy rules.
This may sound paradoxical but you can have your (wedding) cake and eat it. You can satisfy etiquette without slavishly pandering to every nuptial rule that someone dreamt up in the year dot.
After all, the last thing you want is a wedding that’s just like every other reception you’ve ever attended. You know the kind…where the only thing that changes is the pastel shade of the bridesmaids’ dresses.
So let’s tear up a few rules. It’s what strong-minded heroines such as Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice would have done in pursuit of her Mr Darcy…
At the Olde Bell we’re happy to accommodate up to 140 guests for both the civil ceremony and the wedding breakfast.
But gone are the days when weddings were judged by the number of guests. Today’s brides and grooms are smart enough to realise that’s just a vanity.
It’s far better to have a smaller wedding in a beautiful boutique five-star venue than a big sprawling gathering in a characterless three-star hotel. This is your special day after all.
Yes, you’ll need to be quite strict on the guest list but you can overcome this dilemma by restricting the wedding breakfast to close family and friends – and inviting everyone else to the evening party.
Holding your wedding on a Friday can also help. It saves money and also adds a useful filter. After all, if anyone is a sniffy about using a day of their holiday allocation to attend your wedding then perhaps they’re best suited for just the evening celebration.
Make your big day unique. Start with a blank canvas and build up from there. You don’t have to do what everyone else does.
Not only will you make your wedding a much happier affair, but plan it right and you’ll save a bit of cash as well – something you’ll be very glad of after the honeymoon.
Yes, you can splash out on the world’s biggest floral display and a lake of champagne if you really want.
But I’ve been to weddings where the bride binned Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and walked down the aisle to Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones instead…where speeches were banned…where the wedding breakfast comprised only 16 guests…and even one where the happy couple’s parents met only 24 hours before the ceremony!
And you know what? Weddings like that are really fun – people will still be talking about them for years to come (and the protagonists are still married, still hopelessly besotted with each other).
Not many wedding venues in the Henley-Marlow-Maidenhead triangle boast a history dating back nearly 900 years.
Or former guests as diverse as Winston Churchill, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (the Posh ‘n’ Becks of their day), Errol Flynn, Cary Grant and Boris Karloff.
So we know a thing or two about combining centuries of heritage with a certain quirkiness.