So, we’re engaged. After reading about it in the earlier post, what was next on the list? Well, nothing actually. We actually did no planning whatsoever in the first 12 months and just enjoyed being engaged. Between moving house (and county), finding new jobs and settling in, we didn’t even think of booking or planning anything. I know some brides who have booked appointments at dress shops the very next day (and even beforehand!) and have been married within the year of being engaged but as with the rest of our ‘courtship’, everything was relaxed. Once we had re-located to Bournemouth due to a fantastic job offer for Mr Sparrow (he’s a Graphic Designer by day, superhero by night), we started to think about what was next. We had no clue but I’d read a few bridal mags and figured the first place to start (rightly or wrongly) was the venue…

I’m the ‘organiser’ in the relationship (read bossy) but that’s not to say Mr Sparrow was not interested in helping to organise it. As he is creative by nature, he enjoys thinking up the initial concept and any colours or themes etc but hates the researching, organising people and scheduling meetings side of things (my forte). At first I spent days looking online at venues with no real clue as to where to begin and what we were really looking for. I looked at castles (too grand), Tudor manor houses (too stuffy), Victorian houses (too old) and even just plain restaurants (not special enough). Truth is, budget also played a huge part. We had not really put down on paper just how much we were going to spend on the wedding or indeed where we were going to get it from. Some venues were just spectacular and had a huge price tag to boot. Just how much was this wedding going to cost us?

Luckily, I am marrying a man who is good with money and we started to set about saving money each month to reach a grand total come one month before the wedding. Easy! Right? Not for a self-confessed shop-a-holic like me! More on the budget at a later date (that baby deserves a whole post to itself!)…

In order to enquire about prices, we had to decide a date. A weekday wedding is obviously miles cheaper but a weekend wedding is much easier for guests to attend. Hmm… how on earth do people chose a date? We took practicality by the unmentionables and went for a bank holiday weekend. We have family coming from all over the country and it would be useful for them to have the extra day off. Easy! We narrowed it down to these lovely venues:


Athelhampton House – This stunning 15th century house in Dorset with Grade I listed pyramid shaped trees is a perfect venue for any wedding.

Even though it was grand and perfect in every way, it just wasn’t ‘us’. We live in a flat overlooking the sea and consider ourselves ‘normal’ people so it was very hard to imagine myself getting married in a place like this. I never saw myself in the big princess dress walking up to a castle to my prince, more like a big doofus feeling extremely embarrassed about everyone staring at me. Althelhampton was just too big.


Parley Manor – This is a lovely house in Christchurch with marquee reception on the grounds where you are married at the bottom of the garden.

This was a real contender for us as it’s all in one venue (ceremony and reception) plus it has a marquee which you can make your mark on design-wise. The drawbacks included; the weather (what if it was cold? The whole day is spent outside); no accommodation (the house is privately owned so you have to travel to the nearest hotel at the end of the night); and we could only afford a mid-week package here.


The Green House Hotel – This hotel is the UK’s most eco-friendly hotel and has won some very prestigious awards for its food and design.

Not only is the Green House spitting distance from the beach but it serves the most amazing food we have ever eaten. They are lucky enough to have a Michelin starred chef who only cooks organically and seasonally. Coupled with the great reviews this hotel and restaurant has received in its short time of being open and coming in bang on budget, it was a done deal.

So there we have it, a venue chosen and the first thing ticked off what was starting to be a very long list… Where is your venue and what made you chose it? Drop any comments below, I’d love to hear them!

Wedding Sparrow (Sara)

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