Bride Diaries: Elle’s Wedding – The Venue Hunt


12 months, 8 days, 59 minutes until the wedding…

Mr T and I live in London but decided to get married in Devon where our parents live and a place we love to visit. This meant one weekend of intense venue hunting! We concentrated our search around Exeter – easy for guests to get to from London and a 20 minute drive from our family homes. We were looking at a venue that could accommodate both the ceremony, reception and have a few onsite rooms.

Bickleigh Castle

Elle's Wedding Blog Part 2: Venue Hunting | British wedding blog - Bride and Tonic

Our journey started at Bickleigh Castle – Mr T had visions of getting married in a castle – I didn’t… but they say marriage is about compromise so I went along with it. As soon as we pulled up I knew this venue was not for me – the red carpet put me off straight away! After a shambolic welcome we were shown around the various rooms and given a very detailed history of the venue by the castle’s historian. It immediately became apparent that this venue was not going to be able to accommodate our elder relatives. We are lucky that we still have 5 grandparents between us and the cobbles and slippery stairs to the reception room were not going to work for those with new knees and hip replacements!

Pros – If you want tradition and the kudos of saying you got married in a castle then this is the place for you.

Cons – Lots of different rooms, not ideal for older relatives and the onsite accommodation is dated.

Cranberries Hideaway

Elle's Wedding Blog Part 2: Venue Hunting | British wedding blog - Bride and Tonic

The second place we visited was Cranberries Hideaway just outside Axminster. The location is tranquil and peaceful and the 17th century stone barns and cottages have been beautifully renovated to a modern high standard. The venue offers loads of on-site accommodation and a large converted barn for you to hold your wedding reception with a fully licensed and manned bar. They also have an in-house chef so no need to arrange for caterers.

There are two licensed venues to get married; a tiny room in the main house or outside overlooking the stunning view of the Devon countryside.  This was a BIG problem for us as we would have to get married outside in APRIL! As much as they kept assuring us it doesn’t rain in Devon I beg to differ – it rains A LOT and it was too big a risk to take.

Pros – Stunning setting and modern stylish accommodation that would wow your guests. On site spa!

Cons – Summer weddings only, as the main place to get married is outside overlooking the bay. It would be chilly on a cold day!

Pynes House

Elle's Wedding Blog Part 2: Venue Hunting | British wedding blog - Bride and Tonic

The first place I was really excited about visiting. My parents had already done a recce of the venue and they both agreed that it was worth us taking a look.

The Georgian style house has been beautifully renovated and is set in 37 acres of private land. The décor of Pynes House has been carefully planned, ensuring the Georgian feel has been preserved but bringing in a modern flare. They have 12 luxurious rooms which have the wow factor and would impress all the staying guests. The layout of the house works for a wedding with a separate ceremony room and reception room plus a morning room for extra space. My dad’s main concern was that there wasn’t a dedicated place for a bar but they can set one up under stairs and they do not charge corkage!

Pynes House is purely venue hire only; they do not provide catering, crockery or linens but do provide chairs and you can hire a marquee if you have more guests than the house can hold.

We really enjoyed our visit and it was the best venue we had seen and was the style and décor that I had in mind. But we were both concerned that it might feel a bit cramped with the maximum 100 people the venue could hold. However, it was a contender and we left excited already planning how we could make the space work.

Pros – Exclusive hire for the whole weekend, fantastic onsite accommodation, no corkage fee and only 3 miles from Exeter.

Cons – DIY wedding you need to order in all you own suppliers. Limited number of guests to 100 and worried the space would feel cramped with this many people.

Bridwell Park

Elle's Wedding Blog Part 2: Venue Hunting | British wedding blog - Bride and Tonic

Another venue I went to see to please Mr T but I have to admit I was impressed! Bridwell Park is a unique venue and the family home of Lord Ivar Mountbatten which can be hired exclusively for weddings and events. The setting is idyllic; the elegant Georgian house is set within 100 acres and it can be yours for the whole weekend.

The house is huge with enough rooms for you and your whole family to have the greatest game of hide and seek! There is a stunning orangery, a cinema room and even a charming onsite chapel tucked away in the grounds where you can get married.

The vast amount of space you get at Bridwell is amazing and I really warmed to the Wedding Planner Vicky who meticulously showed us around the venue and opened our eyes to what could be done with the space.

Pros – Beautiful location in the heart of the Devon countryside, huge amount of space and can accommodate large numbers.

Cons – This can be seen as a pro or a con but I personally felt slightly uneasy about having my wedding in what is clearly someone’s family home.

Rockbeare Manor

Elle's Wedding Blog Part 2: Venue Hunting | British wedding blog - Bride and Tonic

I stumbled across this venue during one of my desperate internet searches and didn’t expect much. The house was under renovation and was not yet up and running as a wedding venue business.

Rockbeare Manor is a elegant house in a small village on the outskirts of Exeter. As soon as we drove down the charming lane and pulled up to the large white house I was in love. I desperately hoped that the inside of the house was as good as the surroundings.

The inside didn’t disappoint! The front door opens to a reception room with large flagstones that carry on throughout the house. The space is amazing with different rooms to cater for all – there is even a billiards room to keep guests entertained. The room you get married in is stunning with a huge chandelier and ornate coving.  The reception room is MASSIVE and sits up to 150 people and is a modern, light and a great addition to the original house. The bridal room is beautiful and has a balcony so you can take a sneak peak at your guests arriving whilst you are getting ready. Plus there is that ever important separate bar – so my dad was happy! The house will also sleep up to 24 by the time we get married so it really is the perfect location.

Rockbeare have an onsite chef so you do not need to worry about catering and they have 3 different menus to choose from. Beverages can be bought in for a corkage fee or you can order directly thought Rockbeare who use Majestic Wines as a supplier.

The other benefit of Rockbeare is Director of Events Aimee Spencer! She is an absolute delight and had the patience of answering all our questions and showing us around whilst the venue was still a building site!

So Rockbeare Manor, we both fell for you in a big way. You bring both the old school charm that Mr T was looking for and the modern clean look that I needed. It also helped us cement our theme and decide that we would have a black tie and glam evening wedding – a concept that fits us both perfectly.

Pros – Space, light, décor and of course Aimee!

Cons – It wasn’t finished and we hadn’t seen the bedrooms but that was okay as it just felt RIGHT!

So it may only be half finished, but it just felt perfect and we were both buzzing with excitement to go back and tell our friends and families we had finally found THE VENUE!!

How did you find your perfect wedding venue? We would love to hear from you, let us know in the comments below!


  1. Hiring a tent for the wedding is super trendy now and everyone loves the vibe of a traditional English wedding party.. at least I know I do! But, since the marquee is often there because there are too many guests than the venue itself can hold, maybe hiring a portable toilet should be considered, so the guests do not have to stand in long queues or walk long distance before they can use a loo at the venue itself.

  2. How have I only just seen this?! :O) Great blog! We’re so glad that you picked us and we really can’t wait for your wedding which I know is going to be a really elegant and unforgettable day. Looking forward to seeing you both soon. Aimée xx

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