Muddy’s Wedding One-Stop Shop
Welcome to our indispensable local wedding guide, Part 1. All you need to know about local wedding suppliers on one convenient page.
Weddings. So brilliant! So memorable! So utterly baffling when you’re mired in the planning stage. Where? How? Who? By what means? It’s a veritable confetti-doused minefield but luckily, with our Bucks and Oxon wedding guide, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Behold the who’s who of stellar independent wedding businesses in the area, primed and ready to help you start ticking off boxes on that enormous list.
Blow the budget…
OK, so we’re not saying this is in everyone’s capabilities, but Aynhoe Park, just south of Banbury, is a palatial country mansion replete with 14th century church, Capability Brown-designed walled gardens and grounds and a thrilling catalogue of rooms – games room, subterranean bar, orangery – and a team of butlers at your disposal. But how much? Well, as the old adage goes, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
On a similar par is Soho Farmhouse, Nick Jones’s rural party outpost in Chipping Norton, complete with spa, boating lake, cinema, crazy golf and a marquee green that can accommodate up to 250 dining guests.
Stonor Park, in Henley-on -Thames, is another choice venue for the discerning and well-heeled couple. But it’s also going to be home to a wedding fair from 12-13 October so why not collect some ideas while also checking out the grounds.
With a strong emphasis on the romance of the Cotswolds is Caswell House outside Brize Norton, a fifteenth-century manor house with three beautifully restored medieval barns. There is an orchard and walled garden for stunning photo ops and from £5,040 for basic venue hire, you can afford to start adding those layers of luxury.
The Tythe Barn in Launton, near Bicester, is suitably enormous and can seat up to 155 dining guests. There is also a ‘nook’ specifically for the bride and her ladies to prepare while the Shepherd’s Hut provides on-site accommodation for the happy couple – in ideal stumbling distance for the blurry 3am retreat to bed. Prices begin at £3,420.
Poundon House above, near Bicester, can boast to be Asian, mixed-faith and fusion wedding specialists and have a range of beautiful spaces to hold blessings and civil ceremonies. And if you’re in the market for something a little unusual, Stone Barn near Burford, on the Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire border, harbours an vast indoor barbecue, for all your wedding burger needs.
For hotels, we’re lusting after The Langley, above, a grand country house near Stoke Poges – the new kid on the block and sister hotel to the Wolseley in London. It has seven event rooms, of which the largest can hold up to 120, and we can already see the incredible wedding photographs that will be captured on the sandstone entrance stairs.
Over in Marlow, Danesfield House above, can be hired exclusively should your budget run to it and Stoke Park, with 27-hole golf course and spa and beautiful palladian mansion, remains a favourite for wedding parties across the region.
Not your average venue
But if you’re after something a little on the quirky side, how about saying “I do” at one of the country’s most famous schools? Stowe House, usually populated with schoolchildren during term time, can also be recast as an incredible wedding venue with six stunning spaces put aside for such proclamations.
Temple Island in Henley is as it sounds. An island in the Thames with a temple on it. It doesn’t have a licence so formalities will have to take place elsewhere, but from £1,250 it’s an affordable and scenic option. Elsewhere, the incredibly ornate Oxford Town Hall can take just about any size of wedding and benefits from being right in the action, so guest accommodation isn’t an issue.
Find a field!
Like being connected with nature while partying? Us too, which is why Stretch and Tents has got our attention. Marquees, but not as you know them, this cool company also provides lighting, staging, heating and props. In a similar vein, Joseph Benjamin Marquees do a rather fetching line in glass marquees or ones bedecked with a sea of lights. And then if you fancy partying the night away in a marquee that resembles something off a Star Wars set, look no further than Chinnor Marquees.
Let your creative side bloom with an rather impressive choice of unorthodox local florists. Cotswolds-based Willow Crossley describes herself as a ‘floral stylist’ and her style as ‘wild and whimsical’ and that’s enough for us – her background as a fashion journalist and interior designer should give you all the information you need. Fullers Flowers in Princes Risborough is a slightly different prospect, with a retro, rockabilly vibe – and all flowers are grown at its Buckinghamshire nursery, which adds a warming eco-friendly note to proceedings. The Flower Story in Stowe is an award-winning wedding flower shop worth checking out while The Flower Boutique in Little Chalfont does a cracking line in gorgeous pastel blooms. And we’re still very keen on Nong Smitinand Flowers and Joanne Caldwell‘s luxurious arrangements.
Muddy award-winner Megan Guard does an excellent line in colourful, slightly stylised photographs that brilliantly capture the joy of the big day. Her UK package starts at £1,295 and we strongly recommend booking way in advance. Husband and wife team Sam and Steve Photography, meanwhile, focus more on reportage style that grab those natural moments, that’ll make you laugh every time you see them. The more relaxed, fun side of things is where Cheryl George is going too with brilliantly captured incidentals you’ll treasure forever. Buckinghamshire-based Eneka Stewart has an eye for the dramatic and creates stunning photographs, while we probably don’t need to introduce you to Paul Wilkinson – he has won UK Wedding Photographer of the Year, after all. Not surprisingly, prices are discussed on application.
There is no better way to set the tone for your big day than through your invites – it says who you are as a couple and nods to the type of decor and levels of formality your wedding will possess. So… fancy a touch of celebrity glitter, if only by association? Well, Lyn Shields is a Banbury-based graphic designer who was chosen to create the wedding invites for Alex James from Blur, no less.
Meanwhile, deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, Jacquie from White Olive Designs can provide bespoke invitations, but also as a calligraphy expert, can also teach you the art of fine lettering so you can write your own. For fans of paper cutting, Paper Tree Design gives invites that Rob Ryan touch and if detailed botanical illustration is your thing, Starkeys Lane (pictured above) is an absolute find.
But what about dresses, jewellery, transport, and make-up we hear you cry? That’s coming in Part 2. Stay tuned…