Choosing a wedding venue is like buying a house; you have a list of must haves and things you are willing to compromise on and once the practicalities are out the way it all comes down to *that* feeling. There really is no other way to describe it. Of course the icing on the cake when buying a house is getting the keys, not something you get with a wedding venue…..unless you’re getting married at Bridwell that is.
During my recent family holiday to Dorset I hopped across the border into Devon to meet Vicky, the Events Director at Bridwell The excellent directions led me down a quiet country road to some pretty iron gates with a backdrop of trees, revealing absolutely nothing about what lay beyond. Driving through the gates and up the driveway the trees suddenly gave way to quite the most jaw dropping view. I think I managed a squeak before my mouth dropped open again; I may have laughed hysterically too. I would like to end this feature here by begging you to go and have your wedding there and invite me, but that would be cruel and I want, so much, to tell you how beautiful it is.
There is parkland as far as the eye could see with deer peacefully grazing. To the right it slopes down towards the ornamental lake and to the left it carries your eye up towards the beautiful Georgian house sitting proudly in the middle of this spectacular scenery. Of course I immediately imagined myself in my wedding car driving up towards the house. But, seeing as you can hire Bridwell for the weekend, I imagined something like a Triumph Stag containing a couple excited about their wedding and the weekend ahead. That would be fun, much like the house. There’s a great sense of love and family but also fun. It’s been home to little people with sticky fingers, on the hunt for an adventure. It’s held family gatherings and hosted hen parties of close friends. It was made to host a wedding too.
I was greeted at the front door by Lord Ivar Mountbatten himself. This is not just something afforded to suppliers but something Lord Ivar likes to do this with all the couples that visit if he is on the estate. After a quick chat Vicky takes me on a tour of the house and wedding spaces. The rooms and spaces are well proportioned, in fact quite modest given the size of the house which is why it suits intimate weddings so well. Each time we leave a room I quietly think “Yes that was my favourite” and each time Vicky bowls me over with yet another beautiful space like the Conservatory. If you’re not too fussed about tradition then this room would perfectly suit a family breakfast on the morning of the wedding and the day after. If you have married in the house then a Champagne reception looking out across the grounds, the newlyweds greeting their guests through the archway of trees, would also work well here.
After the house we’re onto the Orangery. Previously the family pool and sauna Vicky has worked hard to transform the Orangery into the perfect place to marry or celebrate. For me, a fan of long aisles, I really think this is a wonderful place to marry. It feels secret, hidden and very private and thus intimate. I can imagine feeling like you are the only two people there in that moment saying your vows. It was an overcast day but the room was flooded with light with wonderful views of the estate and gardens.
Finally my tour took us to the Chapel which I can only describe as enchanting. With no pathway we weaved through the wild foliage to the entrance. Inside the Chapel décor is simply beams and a fireplace, high windows and a small mezzanine floor. Vicky tells me that simplicity is the key when decorating the Chapel, just some large Church candles, perhaps some greenery around the fireplace. You can choose to have seating or have your guests stand for the short ceremony. There’s some work to formalise the entrance and put a pathway in which will be completed within the month. For the first wedding to be held in the Chapel the bride is arriving by horse and carriage and the new entrance will allow her to arrive directly outside the Chapel doors.
I have been to some wonderful venues but Bridwell really would be top of the list if I were to renew my vows. My, now, Husband and I originally wanted a family only wedding at a house where we could marry and stay for the weekend to enjoy the celebration for that bit longer. Bridwell has all the must haves! If you were to ask me how my day at Bridwell would go; I would get ready in the Morning Room with its calming décor and wonderful light. I would make my grand entrance down the staircase and marry in the Oval Hallway with the doors open for views across the grounds. I would then have drinks on the lawn outside the Conservatory with the wedding breakfast in there also. I would then party in the Orangery.
I can’t possibly end this feature without mentioning Vicky. With twenty years experience she knew what it would take to turn the house into a place where family and friends can gather to watch their loved ones get married and celebrate. You can see that there has been a lot of attention paid to what couples would like and how the house would work as a home for the weekend as well as accommodating the formalities of a wedding. Vicky works even harder for her couples to ensure their weekend and special day is everything they hoped it would be. She’s there to hand you the keys when you arrive and wave you goodbye as you begin the next chapter of your life together.