A guest expert article from Elegante by Michelle J. Images by Claudine Hartzel Photography
As a destination wedding planner, more and more couples are coming to me to request a wedding weekend experience, here in the UK.
If you have ever attended a destination wedding overseas, you will no doubt have experienced the wonderfully warm and intimate atmosphere created because the couple and their guests get to spend several days together.
From the initial welcome drink on the arrival night, through to the post-wedding brunch or barbecue, the vibe is palpable and it’s something that can prove difficult to re-create for a one day wedding.
But it’s not always feasible to plan an overseas destination wedding. If, for example, you have elderly grandparents who would struggle to travel by plane, or if you feel that expecting your guests to expense an overseas trip is just too much to ask, you might want to consider a UK Wedding Weekend.
What is meant by a UK Wedding Weekend
There are venues here in the UK that can be hired for a weekend, or even a week. If you book such a location, you can invite your guests to join you from say Friday to Sunday, or even Monday and host a number of events and activities, with the wedding day itself being the main focus.
A UK Wedding Weekend will take a great deal more planning than a one day wedding, and might require a bigger budget due to the additional events and longer hire period, but you will be able to create a weekend that is both memorable and magical. Everyone you invite will be connected for a lifetime as a consequence of the few days they have all spent together. Without a doubt, lifelong friendships will be forged, shared memories will be formed and your wedding will be an occasion they will never forget.
UK Wedding Weekend Venues
There are countless hidden gems throughout the UK, but here are just a few of my favourites, all of which are available on an exclusive hire basis for weddings:
- Osea Island is a holiday island located just off the Essex coast and accessible via a tidal causeway. For four hours, twice a day, it is possible to get on and off the island. At all other times the island is surrounded by the sea, thereby creating a natural haven for you and your guests to enjoy https://www.oseaisland.co.uk/
- Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk is a 5000 acre private country estate with a collection of country houses, farmhouses and self-catering accommodation. Extra accommodation can be arranged in glamping tents. https://wildernessreserve.com/
- For a luxury experience, head to Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire, which offers 28 bedrooms in this beautiful country house with plenty of other accommodation available locally. This quirky venue has some amazing indoor spaces, but it is also possible, for larger guest numbers, to erect a marquee in the beautiful grounds https://aynhoepark.co.uk/
- Iscoyd Park is another country house venue – this time in Shropshire – which works perfectly for a UK wedding weekend; you can find a feature on a wedding I planned there recently here on the English Wedding Blog https://english-wedding.com/2018/10/iscoyd-park-wedding-paulo-santos-photography/
- Askham Hall is the Lake District’s loveliest wedding venue – a tranquil, relaxed location with a charming Grade II listed barn. Your guests can take all of the rooms in the hall, with extra accommodation in the owners’ nearby properties.
- Lartington Hall, on the North Yorkshire and Durham borders, is timeless and elegant, offering private hire for weddings and weekends in an impossibly glamorous yet relaxed atmosphere. The idyllic parkland and super pretty gardens are perfect for summer entertaining.
Planning your UK wedding weekend
If a UK wedding weekend sounds like it could be for you, here are some tips and issues to think about:
- Think about the type of venue and the region of the country where you might like to host your wedding weekend; would you like a luxury hotel, or a self-catering holiday village? What about glamping – would you be comfortable asking all of your guests to join you for a weekend of “posh camping”? Do you want everyone to be on site with you, or would you be ok with some of your guests being hosted nearby in local hotels and B&Bs?
- Budget carefully for your wedding weekend; by incorporating additional events – for example a pre-wedding welcome dinner, post wedding day lunch, activities on the days prior to and following the wedding – you could be incurring significant additional costs. You might also need to build a marquee for the wedding itself, if the venue does not have a sufficiently large event space. But, your guest numbers are likely to reduce as those who are not particularly close to you (but you feel obliged to invite) are less likely to accept the invitation
- Plan your wedding day as you would a wedding to close to home, but remember if you have hosted an event the night before, you might not want to start too early; equally if you have no curfew you can party till late so a later ceremony time might be a good idea
- Think about placing a welcome gift and/or note in all of the accommodation so that your guests have something to greet them when they arrive; you might want to include information about the venue and a reminder of all of the events
- If the accommodation is self-catering, you might want to consider providing food hampers to cover the meals you are not providing as part of the wedding weekend, for example breakfasts
- I would definitely advise a wedding website for your wedding weekend, giving your guests all of the information they might need, including travel and accommodation arrangements; there are several wedding website providers, offering a selection of templates in different styles. Examples are https://www.appycouple.com/ and https://www.theknot.com/gs/wedding-websites
- As you are inviting your guests to join you for an entire weekend, make sure that you send out Save the Dates as soon as the date and venue are secured; that way you can ensure that those who you definitely want to be there with you will have blocked out the dates
- Finally, planning a wedding weekend can be rather complex logistically and you might want to consider hiring a wedding planner who specialises in destination weddings
If you would like to find out more about planning a UK wedding weekend, there is an entire section devoted to this type of wedding on my website https://elegantebymichellej.com/weekend-weddings/ and several of this type of wedding included in my portfolio https://elegantebymichellej.com/weekend-wedding-planning/