Calling all wedding planners!
OK Berkshire did a *decent* job with the royal wedding but we think Bucks & Oxon can do it better! Read on for the best local nuptials whizzes.
Feeling inspired by The Royal Wedding? Wasn’t it amazing? It was almost enough to make me want to get married again myself (soz Mr Muddy). If you are involved in planning your own special day right now – be it as bridesmaid, mother of the bride or Bridezilla herself – read on for the Muddy edit of the best of Bucks and Oxon’s 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.
How fabulous does this look? How much do you want to be at that party, barefoot and swigging Champagne out of the bottle? (Sorry, I’m a savage like that). It’s the wonderful handiwork of Wedding Weekends, who are based at The Copse, a luxury residential, self-catering, licensed wedding venue where you can very much make a weekend of it. It’s in a secret Oxfordshire location in a luscious, bucolic Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty but only 5 minutes from Reading and 10 minutes from Henley.
Owner Penny has been renting out her sprawling former family home and its 22 acre grounds since 2009 – the idea came when her daughter chose home sweet home for her own wedding. There are nine bedrooms, it sleeps 18 people and there’s enough room for up to 120 day guests, thanks to the barn and stretch tents. The lovely thing about it is the happy couple get the run of the place and can build their wedding to their own specifications – so you could bring in the fanciest caterer around or you could get your mum to do the cooking. Anything goes – bespoke it, baby! Penny’s big on creating a “home from home” feel. And the fact that you can be in residence for the entire weekend makes for a supremely relaxed vibe. Basically you can eke out your bash into a bonafide mini-break.
Also, very important detail – if you’re arriving in your helicopter (and obviously this is my favoured mode of transport for every event) – there’s space to land one’s chopper.
We also love… Monkton Barn is – surprise! – a barn on the edge of the Chilterns near Marlow. They cater for anything from 20 to 400 guests. It sits in 10 acres of rolling meadows and caters for anything from traditional weddings to the wonderfully wacky. Want more barn action? ‘Course you do. We’re also big fans of the 17th century Tithe Barn at Bix Manor, near Henley. It accommodates up to 100 guests, the caterers Fingers & Fork are up for a Wedding Industry Award this year and they don’t charge corkage so you can safely toast the bride and groom all night long.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS
Venue sorted, now for all the fun stuff. We’re longtime fans of their superlative supper clubs but Native Feasts also do wedding catering – and you’re in very safe hands with Michelin star-bothering chef Chris Godfrey. Scone aficionados will adore pop-up afternoon tea specialists Time For Tea Vintage, and talking of sweet treats, do you know the muffin man? We do – he’s called Rich and he’s got 15 years of experience as a pastry chef and working in food development for the likes of Fortnum & Mason. His Belistore mobile bakery up rocks up at events to serve delicious brownies, pastries and muffins – a great ‘morning after’ catering option we reckon, should your guests be sleeping over. Meanwhile, The Tipsy Flamingo have got the cocktails covered – they serve up Woo Woos or Espresso Martinis from a cute aluminium van. Bring. Them. On.
Let’s talk dresses now as that’s the best bit, obvs. Ellie Sanderson has won a clutch of awards (and a Muddy Award nomination) for her Beaconsfield boutique. She stocks a wide range of labels and styles, including modern separates and jumpsuits for brides looking for something with a bit of edge. We also adore Black Swan Bridal, with its gorgeous riverside showroom in Wallingford (can we move in, please?). It’s the only local stockist of current season Alice Temperley frocks.
Oxford-based Bicycle Blooms, Muddy Awards 2018 best florist winner no less, are our top tip for your wedding bouquet. We’re also crushing hard on Wild Rose for super-cool flowers with a rock’n’roll edge (more on founder Rachael Ashton here). Need help scrubbing up? (Don’t we all, sista.) Bucks Makeup Studio are total whizzes with extensive experience working on Hollywood movies. Tamsin there has worked her magic on the Muddy visage for many a special occasion when not making Cate Blanchett and friends look beautiful. We’ve also heard good things about Katie Reay Scott, a hair stylist and make-up artist with 25 years’ experience. When it comes to photography, Wendy Aldiss is your gal for the money shots, although we also love portrait and events photographer Ellie Walpole (official Muddy Awards photographer this year – oooooh!) and the bridal behemoth Paul Wilkinson who is the preferred snapper for Le Manoir and The Crazy Bear group for very good reason. On a less formal note, Beryl’s Vintage Caravan is a mobile photobooth, complete with silly props that seem like the greatest idea in the world when you’re 5 glasses of champagne in. The gorgeous Black Swan Bridal Boutique in Wallingford has your dress totally covered.
Finally, a neat idea to keep younger guests occupied – Firefly Events will create a cool pop-up al fresco cinema at your reception to mesmerize little ones into silence. Your choice of movie? Gotta be Bridesmaids, I reckon.
Want more, more, more? Check out the weddings section of Muddy’s Little Black Book – we have your special day covered!