After we got engaged, had bought the ring and settled down from all the celebrations, we finally had time to stop and really think about how our wedding day would look. After lots of questions during the celebrations of where, when and how we knew we had A LOT of thinking to do!
I started making some initial enquiries at venues I’d worked at in the past and loved. It was safe to say at this point we had no idea how expensive weddings could be, and were immediately scared off by the cost of those that included everything (venue, ceremony, catering and also some with accommodation). I had always dreamed of my wedding taking place at Osea Island after photographing a wedding there in the past, so enquiring and realising it was waaaaay out of budget helped me to bury that dream and just.move.on.
We just kept thinking that there had to be another way! So we started to think about the things that were most important to us and ended up with a list like this;
- We wanted to be in full control of all of the suppliers on our wedding day, and not be forced to pick from a list of recommended people.
- We decided we wanted an outdoor wedding as neither of us are religious and so it felt hypocritical to get married in church, just because of tradition.
- Tagg (our dog) to be welcome for the ceremony and photos
After searching online relentlessly for campsites, land for hire and even at one point searching to purchase our own plot of land! (We’re still tempted to do this!) Dedham Vale Vineyard was recommended by a campsite I’d enquired with.
We’d visited it briefly last year when Russell took part in their 10k run (which included wine tasting!), and with it being just 20 minutes from home we excitedly booked in a viewing. They had only recently started to offer the site for hire for weddings, which was another plus point for me, as I suddenly realised I’d like a venue that I hadn’t worked at before. I didn’t want my head to be in ‘wedding photographer’ mode on my own wedding day so choosing somewhere where I’ve never photographed before was definitely a good thing. (Although I did get my first enquiry for a wedding here recently!!)
When we arrived to view we were met by Jenny, who showed us around the site. It immediately felt perfect as she mentioned we would have free reign and be allowed to do everything we had mentioned above, but also with an extra bonus. We (along with any willing guests) could also camp overnight too.
Our plan is to hire in a traditional wooden pole marquee, which will over look the lake and back onto the vineyard. We’ll then have an entire marquee to fill (which I am very excited about).
The only issue was that although Dedham Vale were happy for us to hold a ceremony in the woodland on their site. It wasn’t licensed for weddings. This didn’t bother me in the slightest as I had always pictured myself having a celebrant led wedding anyway. But Russell took a little more convincing seeing as he had never even heard of it! In fact he thought celebrant led weddings were all about hugging trees, singing hippy songs and dancing!
This all coincided with the recording of a Get Wed episode around celebrant led weddings (click to listen, and see if it changes your mind about traditional ceremonies!), and so after listening Russell was soon on board.
Once we were happy with our ceremony plans we knew Dedham Vale would be perfect, guests would arrive, walk through a woodland trail to the site for the ceremony and afterwards be led out of the woods past the lake to our marquee by the vineyards for the rest of the reception. They’ll be taken on a little journey of the grounds naturally, and that will give everyone plenty of time to chat, relax and enjoy the afternoon.
We recently visited Dedham Vale again (on the same weekend we plan to hold our wedding next year) just to see how its looking now things are much leafier than our visit in the winter. These first three photos below are where we plan to hold the ceremony. We’ll obviously make it look a little prettier in here, but it was fun to imagine it a whole year ahead!
How did you find your venue search? Are you struggling? Or was it love at first viewing?!