Have a wedding to plan?
Don't book anything until you've read this! Introducing the Muddy mega marriage guide with more brilliant local venues and suppliers than you can shake a sugared almond at. You have a read and we'll go buy a hat.
Harry and Meghan had Windsor Castle, as did Princess Eugenie and, er, that bloke, while Lady Gaga has a $1m engagement ring. But never mind the celebs – you, dear Muddy reader, have our super-duper wedding guide to help make your special day the best of the bunch. We’re here to help, as always. If you’re knee-deep in planning a wedding – be it as the blushing bride, a bridesmaid or mother of the bride – read on for the Muddy edit of the best of Glos and Wilts‘ independent wedding businesses. We’ve got the venue covered, plus all the trimmings. Easy peasy! I’m off to buy a fascinator and await my invitation.
Oh my God, I’m going to ditch the hubby and get married again, just so I can do it at Bowood Hotel. There are acres of ornate gardens, endless views over the idyllic Wiltshire countryside, gorgeous rooms to bed down in after the main event and – major bonus – one of the best spas in the county to while away all those pre-wedding nerves. We love their outdoor Wedding Pavilion for the perfect backdrop to your special day, and the team here are hard to beat when it comes to catering for your every whim. A gorgeously romantic setting, divine food, Pimms alfresco on the lawn…it couldn’t be more perfect. Right, Mr Right. Where’ve you been hiding?
A Grade II-listed stunner near Gloucester, Elmore Court is a real grande dame, but at the same time feels like your quirky, rich friend’s house. The seat of the Guise family for 750 years, it’s got bags of character – the bright main hall with its mullioned windows is a fairy-tale setting for a civil ceremony or, if you want a church service, the 13th-century Elmore Church is less than a mile away. And then it’s time to feast and frolic! There’s a soundproof, eco ballroom that serves as a modern-rustic dining hall/party palace (seating up to 200) and there’s also room for 45 guests to have a luxury sleepover. The recently renovated, three-bed Coach House serves as the perfect, night-before-the-big-day bridal prep pad, while the big house offers a couple of sumptuous, bridal suite choices, one with a decadent copper bath. And for guests with kids in tow, there’s a family wing with its own kitchen, plus in-house catering team should you require it.
Grittleton House near Chippenham is a beautiful Victorian Manor House venue fit for a princess. Brimming with stunning features it has impressive balconies, sweeping double staircase and an elegance worthy of any fairy-tale. Why not get ready in the majestic drawing room and enjoy a glass of fizz before making your entrance? After the ceremony greet your guests with champagne and canapes in the Italian Gardens with opportunities for those all-important photographs. Then it’s time to tuck into your scrumptious wedding breakfast in one of the State Rooms. Ooh, yes!
It’s the little things that count at Hatton Court Hotel, a traditional Cotswold country house wedding venue where you can craft your own special day with all the wonderful quirks you’ve always dreamed of. Against the dreamy backdrop of stunning grounds, gorgeous Cotswold views, a romantic country hotel (photos to die for? check) and garden marquee you can experiment, design and decorate to your heart’s content. The food is a biggie here – their chefs know their biscuits and will create bespoke menus to compliment your celebrations, all with fresh, seasonal ingredients, plus we love the Big Suppers the hotel can organise the night before the big day, complete with sharing platters to get everyone mixing.
We’ve fallen head over heels for the bijou wedding offerings at Cotswold House Hotel and Spa, Chipping Camden. A Regency stunner, this has to be one of the most romantic places to get married, and when it comes to putting on a ceremony, the boutique hotel has all bases covered. We’re talking small and intimate rather than Royal Wedding numbers with the Montrose Suite – a pitched roof and exposed beams beauty – holding 90 guests, or the Fig restaurant, the hotel’s über elegant dining space, seating 50 for a ceremony, 30 for a wedding breakfast. Everything is on hand for bride, groom and guests, with 28 rooms that can be block booked for the big day – there are suites with hot tubs, people! – and there’s even a spa tucked away in the gorgeous gardens which provides all manner of pampering possibilities.
Discover a real slice of quintessential England at The Great Tythe Barn in the heart of a private estate in the Cotswolds. With accommodation for 90 guests, this stunning Grade II listed, sixteenth century barn is a stonker of a venue packed with original features (think exposed stone walls, fireplaces and oak beams), with the added bonus of gorgeous lawns for a drinks reception and picture postcard perfect photos. Ready for the party now? Bop ’til you drop under a canopy of fairy lights as the barn transforms into a rocking dance floor, and no need to keep an eye on the time or worry about taxis – within the grounds are ten self-catering cottages, twelve bed and breakfast rooms, and The Tythe House, so you and all your guests can stay over. Create a whole wedding weekend and celebrate the night before and the morning after in local Tetbury, mere walking distance away. This one’s got the wow factor, for sure.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS
First, the music. If you’re after the very best bespoke musical entertainment for your event, try Laurian Consultancy. This boutique agency, run by the very talented Abigail Holloway, offers bespoke musical solutions for all special events (and for any budget), for weddings, parties and for, well, all celebrations, as well as for festivals, movie companies, TV companies and music venues. Celebrating a special birthday? Maybe you are getting hitched in the South of France and need an extra special artist to croon to you during your first dance? Laurian will find you the very best music to fit your day. Love a solo pianist? An acoustic guitar? Or what about fantastic walk-about singing trios to entertain your guests on arrival? They can offer all this and more, including background music during your wedding breakfast meal, and, of course, the coolest ever party bands!
If we were putting another ring on it, the first thing we’d do is make a beeline for Aimee Winstone, a Gloucestershire-based fine jeweller who makes exquisite, bespoke pieces including engagement and wedding rings.
For real experience, Watling Goldsmiths of Lacock is the place for you. Brother and sister team Jane and John Watling (and worthy winners of Muddy Stilettos’ Best Jeweller in Wiltshire 2019) have been trained and worked in the jewellery trade since school, with John making classic work mainly in 18ct golds and platinum, while Jane works at the more modern end of the market, setting sapphires with diamonds. Book an appointment for a commission for your big day.
Fancy designing your own wedding rings? For a truly unique, memorable keepsake of the big day, head to Aneata Boote Design and book in a day at her studio where you can forge your love! Aneata, winner of Best Jeweller in the Glos Muddy Awards 2019 will guide you through each process as you make your wedding rings – you’ll get her undivided attention as you design, forge, solder and polish your creations. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll celebrate with a glass of fizz at the end. Perfect!
There’s a host of groovy, creative Instagram-friendly florists popping up around these parts, offering a refreshingly modern take on trad wedding flowers. Case in point – the gorgeous work of My Flower Patch, winners of the Wilts Muddy Awards 2019 who grow their own blooms, as well as last year’s Muddy Award winner Kate Robinson Flowers, with bouquets inspired by the changing seasons and the beautiful rural countryside.
The hen? Not so keen on a boozy night out with L-plates and a flammable veil? Tsk, spoilsport! Then try Cotswolds Discovery Trail for a bespoke hen day out – they’ll create a package just for you.
Do you love gin? Er, obviously. Then check out the ostentatiously adventurous Explorer’s Gin from Downton’s Distillery in the heart of Wilts. Truly one of the best artisan gins in the country, all you need to do is grab a glass and pass the Fever Tree. Silver Fox Gin and Twisting Spirits are our other faves to keep your guests watered.
The devil’s in the detail on the foodie front and here are some outfits that get the detail just right. We love Vaughan’s Kitchen for inventive catering with a twist, and The Little Pickle are Glos caterers to die for. Fancy something different for your wedding breakfast? The Slinky Fox will bring the best artisan wood fired pizzas this side of Italy to the party, and offer bespoke wedding packages. Fancy a table laden with pizza boards for your guests to tuck into? Yep, they’ll do that for you. Or go retro and they’ll recreate a pizza shop where guests can take away their pie in a box.
And don’t forget the decorations. Surely the most important way to get your own personal wedding vibe, it’s Fabulous Functions all the way for everything gorgeous and indulgent, from table centrepieces to silk flower walls to sequin table linen, no less. After a theme? They’ll even come and style the whole event for you. If you’re going retro your best bet is the wonderful Nanny Nellies Attic for vintage china and all things gorgeous and chintzy. They have a huge variety of props and paraphernalia to whirl you into retro-land, with bespoke styling from bygone years giving any event a gentle touch of nostalgia.
Hair and make up? Easy peasy. Our fave beauty parlours on the block are Absolute Beauty, a lovely relaxed salon in the heart of Cheltenham, The Tranquil Moment, the ultimate in pampering relaxation in the heart of Wilts, and Lifestyle Health and Beauty, set in a gorgeous old Coach House near Malmesbury, charming, tranquil and relaxing – the perfect place for some well earned pampering. Get ready to be beautified at The Parlour in Marlborough, a funky, vintage, uber-cool salon. If you want that super-personal touch, hot foot it to Celfie Hair and Make Up where the gorgeous Gemma will beautify you and your lovely ladies of honour.
Get fit for your big day with Kirsty Victoria, a lawyer-turned-fitness professional who specialises in working with brides who want to get fit, lose weight and fit into the wedding dress of their dreams in time for the big day. This lady truly knows that looking your best on your wedding day is one of the biggest concerns brides have, but trying to get fit and lose weight whilst planning a wedding is HARD… And that’s where Kirsty Victoria comes in – she fully understands this, and works hand in hand with brides to achieve their wedding dress goals. Her Bridal PT service is a monthly online membership program that gets results by working out when it suits you. This includes gym and home workouts, nutritional advice, food plans and loads more. Need a fast fix, quickly? Her Wedding Dress Transformation programme lasts for 8 weeks, and has already helped dozens of brides feel incredible in their wedding dress. Need more than this? Kirsty Victoria offers a limited number of one to one coaching slots in Cirencester or Swindon for brides who are committed to working with her for at least 3 months. Don’t forget to use her discount code SAVETHEDATE19 to get 20% off her 8 Week and Bespoke programmes!
You’ll need a photographer to record those oh-so-precious memories, and for us it has to be The Little Photo Company, winners of Best Photographer in the Muddy Awards 2019 and particularly famed for festival weddings. Stunning, funky and modern, they are definitely best in show as far as we are concerned.
Like a wedding with a difference? Hire a bar from the Umbrella Bar Company, stunning and stylish bars for any outdoor (or indoor) event. Think huge parasols, decking, fairy lights…a real hub for the drinking, sorry, party, to start from.
Finally, a neat idea to keep younger guests occupied – Firefly Events will create a cool pop-up al fresco cinema at your reception to mesmerise little ones into silence. Your choice of movie? Gotta be Bridesmaids or The Wedding Crashers.
And then, phew, all is confetti-d, toasted and finally done. Mr & Mrs can retreat for the night. How about Intrepid Campers for funky VW camper van hire or Wanderlust Camper Co for the perfect solution for a cool couple to rest their weary/drunken heads after the event?
Want more, more, more? Check out the weddings section of Muddy’s Little Black Book of best local businesses.