Today I want to talk about the wedding venue we chose to get married in this year. It took a long time to find somewhere suitable for our two-ceremony day but in the end the venue we chose was Alpheton Hall Barns near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
Gosh, finding a wedding venue that met our needs and budget was quite the palaver. In fact, that one aspect of the wedding took more time than the actual planning of the entire event. It took about 14 months of searching, and getting messed around by potential venues, before we found a venue.
We needed a space that would be able to host two wedding ceremonies, an English Civil ceremony, and a Hindu religious ceremony. Plus we need space for a drinks reception, main wedding breakfast dinner, and an evening of dancing and food. We also wanted a venue where we could have our own catering as we wanted a fusion of food which represented us and our families. There were several other factors that made it super difficult to find somewhere to get married.
In January this year we stumbled across this place in Suffolk, a county which we have no significant relation to, but the venue turned out to suit our needs so we went for it!
Alpheton Hall Barns is a set of two barns combined and situated in the countryside with fields as far as the eye can see. I’d always wanted a countryside wedding and this was pretty remote.
The barns had character with the old timer frames and beams, and they looked super pretty just as they were, even without any extra decorations.
Whereas the larger barn was ideal as we could set up all of the tables for the wedding breakfast, section it off and have space for a large dance floor. This ended up being super useful as we had to move the Popcorn and Prosecco Reception indoors thanks to the rain.
The venue also had a terrace and garden to the side of the main barn which was supposed to be used for our break between ceremonies when we hosted our Popcorn and Prosecco reception.
In between the two barns in the other direction was a courtyard area which contained a pizza oven, which ended up being the main socialising space in the evening (sorry I don’t seem to have any photos of the pizza terrace area yet!).
The venue came with a full catering kitchen and a separate drinks storage and washing up station. This was ideal for our own caterers to set up for the two days to create our epic feast.
The venue also came with a few other props and quirks which were ideal and saved us having to hire them out separately.
There was a moveable bar and fridge section which we fully stocked ourselves (huge thanks to our best man for creating a stunning professional-looking bar, and for more making use of my vintage bar mirrors).
There was also a small stage available which we were able to have the DJ set-up on by the dance floor.
We also found extra props such as a photobooth, drinks cart and wheelbarrow and wood slices which we used for our centrepieces. Plus, there was a wooden mandap structure available for us to use, we simply decorated it ourselves with foliage and fairy lights.
Alpheton Hall Barns came with tables and chairs, which was ideal. And they were the attractive kind of chairs so I didn’t have to worry about decorating them or worse, chair covers.
The wedding venue pretty much came as is. Anything that required washing needed to be bought or hired in, so that meant hiring tablecloths, crockery, cutlery, glasses, serving dishes and utensils, etc.
A huge benefit was being able to choose our own caterers. Most wedding venues in the UK force you to use their own in-house catering or from a small selection of their own partners. As we were having a fusion wedding we were quite firm on the need to have a menu that reflected that. Plus, we wanted to find a relatively affordable way to feed everyone (wedding catering is one of the biggest expenses).
This was also one of the few places that was a no-corkage wedding venue, meaning we could buy all of our own drinks at retail price. This saved us loads of money, AND we got to provide a totally free bar the entire day for our guests.
We mainly chose this wedding venue as it was beautiful inside and out (meaning if it rained – which it did – we still had a stunning location for our wedding), it was in the countryside (it felt idyllic), and it was an affordable option that gave us the flexibility we needed to create an incredibly unique and personal day to us.
All photos by Simon Brettell