THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE COTSWOLDS WEDDING VENUE SCALE…
Captain’s Log. Day five hundred and eleventy-thousand of global pandemic covid-19. Now, let’s talk alternative Cotswold wedding venues. Cos y’all still gonna be getting married one day.
“Alternative” is a funny old word, innit? For some, it means a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed Halloween wedding complete with a groom resplendent in Jack Skellington suit and a hearty choral rendition of the Oggie Boogie Song (hey, I’ve seen it and if you don’t believe me I’ll be featuring it on the blog soon). For others, it means exchanging vows in a hot air balloon as it sails over the Isle of Wight. It’s such an objective term, one that can be interpreted in hundreds of different ways.
It’s not as simple as Traditional vs. Weird & Wonderful anymore. I think there’s a vaaaaaast spectrum between those two points and if you’re planning on getting hitched in my neck of the woods, the Cotswolds, permit me to throw some ideas into your venue pot.
Let’s start at the more traditional end of the alternative Cotswold wedding venues scale…
MIND YER MANORS
They don’t come much more gloriously lavish than a grand old manor house. Once the first choice of footballers’ wives and Katie Price (the first three weddings, anyway), manor houses have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity as wedding venues and rightly so. Large, plush rooms for guests to stay in, rolling grounds that make excellent backdrops for couple portraits and more heritage than you can shake a devilled herring at. They don’t make for the most alternative wedding venues, but how can you argue with a bit of taxidermy and a hidden library or two?
BORN IN A BARN MATE?
Still traditional but with just a liiiiiitle bit of quirk, a barn wedding is a solid choice. Strings of bunting, lovely old buildings with beams, long raucous tables of guests doing yards of ale…anything goes at a barn wedding. If you love a party and want things to go off with a bang, a barn wedding is a brilliant way to go and – crucially – can be just a little bit less costly than a manor house. Cotswold is FAMOUS for its converted barns, so you’re spoiled for choice.
NOW FOR SOMETHING A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT
Here we go. We’re off the map now, people. For a truly alternative wedding venue that your guests will not soon forget, one of these venues is bound to hit the spot. It’s impossible to generalise about them so I’ve outlined what makes each one delightfully different.
Posh but oh-so-unique, Beaufort Polo Club is home to the famous Tomlinson polo dynasty and is a great choice for those who love sport. Offers a marquee that can seat up to 400 people…so big weddings more than welcome!
No one does high-end shabby chic luxury like Soho House and their Farmhouse is just the bee’s knees. Being at a wedding here is like being inside Millie MackIntosh’s Instagram account but in all the right ways. The food’s out-of-this-world (it’s kinda their thing) and your guests can stay in lakeside cabins, an original Cotswold-stone Farmhouse, the four-bedroom Farm Cottage or something called a “Piglet”. It’s quaint as hell.
If the idea of having the odd farm animal milling about your wedding is the stuff of dreams, then I’ve got great news. Nestled in the lovely market town of Witney, sits Cogges Manor Farm, a beamed seventeenth century barn that boasts lawns, a walled garden, an orchard and small animal farm. Because who’d want to get hitched without a few goats about the place?
Birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and a World Heritage Site to boot, Blenheim Palace and its gardens exude old world charm. It’s just AMAZING when you drive up to it – a proper heart-stopper – which is probably why it’s been used in various big Hollywood films like Spectre, Cinderella and Transformers: The Last Knight. Romantic stuff, eh?
Who says London should have all the fancy townhouses? Where traditional Georgian architecture meets eclectic modern design, No.131 is the jewel in the crown of Cheltenham’s Promenade. Just a stone’s throw from Montpellier, it’s been named among the best hotels in the Cotswolds and with good reason.
If a cosy pub wedding is what you’re after, the Holford Arms is incredibly accommodating. Set in eight acres of rolling countryside, they can offer camping for your guests which is super useful if you’ve got a big wedding planned, but want to keep accommodation costs down.
This place is awesome. The word ‘rococo’ describes a period of art characterised by ornamental decoration, the use of pastel colours and asymmetry. In the 1700s, these gardens became a kind of elaborate outdoor playroom, all beautiful vistas and serpentine paths. Fans of The Secret Garden will be over-the-moon.
One of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe (let alone the Cotswolds), The Baths is the only wedding venue that allows you and your guests to walk on the original Roman pavements and sip fizz next to the ruins of the Temple of Sulis Minerva. You can exchange vows by torch light overlooking the steaming waters of the Great Bath…need I say more?
The Matara Centre
You wouldn’t necessarily expect an oasis of Asian zen in the grounds of a Tetbury Grade II listed Regency house but The Matara Centre will exceed every single one of your expectations. This is the giddy end of the alternative spectrum: hanging gardens, 28 acres of wetlands and meadows and a life-sized wooden giraffe in the grounds. It’s anything but boring.