Potential Venue No. 1

We’ve just got back from viewing our first wedding venue… Missenden Abbey.  Lots of plus points, but some minuses too..

Here’s the low-down, in picture format..

The pluses: it’s a beautiful venue, with stunning scenery and fantastic picture opportunities.  It’s an ideal location, both for us to travel to from where we live, and also it’s only about 20 minutes (if that) from the Church where we plan to tie the knot.  The venue make the most of the outdoor space by proving outdoor games such as croquet, pitch and putt, and you can also add extras like a bouncy castle, giant chess etc.  They also allow candles and fireworks, which a lot of venues won’t.  Not saying we’ve got a budget for fireworks, but it means we can keep our options open!  So here’s what it looks like from the outside:

It’s quite spacious inside, and for the venue hire cost, we would get exclusivity of the whole venue and grounds.  So some pictures of the inside:

The entrance corridor…

Some of the original Abbey walls inside the building…

The bar (which they informed us is all at pub prices!)…

And another plus… as well as 6 posh bedrooms in the actual Abbey building, there is a residential block about 150m away, with around 50 double rooms, all looking out over this lovely pond… (and very reasonably priced)

But unfortunately, there are some negatives, two in particular.  The first, is the dining area.  Or rather areas.  The dining area is split into three separate rooms, although all conjoined in the middle by an archway and a set of double doors.  The carpet is also a bit of a funny colour.  The tables are rectangular, and are quite narrow, so there’s not much room for centre-pieces.  But the real deal-breaker is that they’re three different rooms, so we wouldn’t be able to see everyone at once.  One of the rooms at the end is also very dark, with little natural lighting.

This is the room in the middle, which has a three-storey sky light, which makes the room feel incredibly light and airy, which you can’t really get from this photo:

This is the smallest of all the dining rooms.  The doors you can see on the left of the picture lead to the middle-sized dining room, which is also where the evening buffet would be served.  As you can see, the tables are quite narrow, once there’s glasses and cuttlery on the table, there’s not much room for much else.  I can’t actually even imagine room for side plates!!

The arch on the right of the photo is to the largest room, which is also the one which is very dark… (as seen here through the arch from the middle room.. and it’s not just bad lighting in the photo, it really is that dark!!)

The venue people suggest that the top table is placed in this room, with our backs to the patio, so we can look through the two arches and into both dining rooms.  They also had the creative idea of the bride and groom eating a different course in each room, so they can mingle with all the guests.  It’s a nice idea as a work-around, but it’s not ideal, and really lets the venue down for me.  So then they suggest that rather than doing speeches in the dining room (as not everyone would be able to see / hear), they suggest holding them on this staircase.. (obviously the tea table would be moved out of the way)

The Mr immediately didn’t like this idea of towering over people whilst delivering a speech.  There’s nowhere to sit, and the room is long and narrow, so people delivering a speech would be turning left to right to try and address everyone.  This area is also where the venue suggest the dance floor is.  And when you see it from another angle, I’m just not sure how it would work…

So that’s the staircase on the left, and the edge of the tea table.  They suggest the DJ / band sets up infront of the window in the middle, as the two either side are the doors out into the garden (which are also fire-escapes, so can’t be blocked).  Immediately to the left, is the archway through to the bar.  So in my opinion, this area would become a thoroughfare from the garden into the bar, or from the dining area into the garden.  I can’t imagine much dancing going on, which is a shame.  Also, the dancrfloor is so seperate to the dining area, (guests would have to walk back through the main corridor to get from one to another).

So for me, I guess I would sum it up as beautiful venue, shame about the floor plan.  The other alternative, is that we pay the extra cost to have a marquee put up in the grounds.  Which seems like a real shame, to pay for such a gorgeous venue, and then spend time in a tent.  But, it would solve the issue of the floor plan – everyone would be in the same place.  But it would add a lot onto the cost of the venue.

But this is only the first venue we’ve looked at, there’s plenty more to come!  And Venue No. 2 is on the cards for tomorrow, so see you again soon!!

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