Still a bit giddy from all the excitement, we sat down to write out our guest list and put together a budget…….these are the first things I advise people to do when they start to plan their wedding so I had to follow my own advice! Now that was done it was time to start looking for our perfect wedding venue. Because I’ve worked in the wedding industry for such a long time, I know 90% of venues in the area….the only ones I don’t know are newly opened or have just undergone refurbishment, so I told Graham to have a look through all the venues in the area who hold a licence for civil ceremonies. A church ceremony wasn’t even discussed…..the church where I grew up isn’t exactly a ‘pretty church’ and it’s miles away from anywhere!
Graham made a shortlist of venues in the area that he liked the look of, I vetoed a couple and added a few of my own that I thought were worth taking a look at……this left us with a shortlist of 12!!!! Even before Graham popped the question I knew where I would like us to get married, and luckily this venue was part of Graham’s original list without any interference from me!
The first venue we went to take a look at was Doxford Barns, a brand new venue in North Northumberland surrounded by stunning countryside. We loved the light and airy barn and the lawn in front of the house where you can get married. We also liked the fact there are some gorgeous holiday cottages and camping pods on site for guests to stay.
The second venue was Saltwell Towers which is in Saltwell Park in Gateshead. The venue could not be in a nicer location, the park and ornamental gardens are stunning and perfect for wedding photographs. When we walked down into the park we turned a corner and saw the stunning fairytale castle-like building.
Next we went to the Vermont Hotel on Newcastle’s quayside; I was blown away by this venue. It has just had a multi million pound refurbishment and you can certainly see the improvements. The Goldroom is a beautiful room where you can get married and also hold a wedding breakfast and for our numbers was perfect, but then we were shown the Sky Lounge. OMG….this room leads out onto a roof garden which has panoramic views of the Newcastle skyline. And if that wasn’t enough we were then taken through to the Ballroom, which was once the council chamber for Northumberland County Council.
The following day we went to look around Linden Hall near Morpeth in Northumberland. This is a venue Graham and I know well, I took him there for his birthday a couple of times and he has played golf there. Having a golf course meant that Graham gave this venue an extra 10 points! I’m a sucker for Georgian architecture, I love columns, cornicing, ceiling roses and the light and airy feel of the high ceilings. Linden Hall has it all. When you walk into the reception it leads to the inner hall, an amazing stone floored hall with real fire, a sweeping staircase and a dome skylight. I could just imagine brides gliding down the staircase. We were shown the drawing room where smaller ceremonies can take place, it is light airy and is bursting with period features; for me it was exactly what I imaged my ceremony room to look like. We also went through to the Bigge Suite where wedding breakfasts and evening receptions take place. The room has gorgeous sandstone walls, a tented ceiling and fairy lights wrapped around the pillars in the room. It has a large separate bar with room for relaxed seating for guests. The bedrooms are Linden Hall are beautiful with standard, executive and period rooms available. Linden Hall only take 1 wedding per day so it is like having your own country house for the day.
We went to see Kirkly Hall the following weekend. It is a gorgeous 17th century listed hall set in the Northumberland countryside close to both our families. They have a stunning outdoor terrace where you can hold your civil ceremony and the Oak Room is an excellent wet weather option. The Blue Room and Banqueting rooms interlink so you can use one for your wedding breakfast then open them up for your evening reception.
The last venue we viewed was Horton Grange close to Ponteland in Northumberland. It is a Grade II listed building in beautiful grounds which is exclusively yours for the day. We were shown the drawing room which is licensed for civil ceremonies but there is also a licensed gazebo in the garden for outdoor ceremonies. Wedding breakfasts and evening receptions take place in the restaurant which is so beautifully light from all the windows and the doors that lead out onto the decking overlooking the beautifully landscaped gardens. Horton Grange has 9 beautiful bedrooms, we were shown 2 and both were full of character and period furniture.
Can you guess where we have booked??? Yes, Linden Hall. The venue I had dreamed of marrying Graham before he even asked me to marry him, probably from the moment I took him there for his birthday just a couple of months after I met him. I knew Linden hall was the venue just as I knew he was The One.