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Wedding venues with good food

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Hello All

Just recently got engaged ( :wacko: ) and am inevitably trying to find a wedding venue for next year. Being a bit of a foodie myself and also on the observation that all the weddings i've enjoyed most have been ones where the meal has been more than just edible I'd really like to try and find somewhere where the food is of a decent standard (which seems to be a bot of a radical requirement from the places I've been so far). The main problem with my quest is that my other half would like a biggish wedding (70 - 100 people).

I appreciate this is a bit of a wide request but was just wondering if anyone had any recommendations at all? Budget is quite generous -ish (and the food will be the main spend - I'm skimping on the other stuff to get a good meal). Ideally we were looking either in the North east (where I'm from but seems pretty hopeless) or South west london/thames valley (i.e. places like Henley) - but if there was something great elsewhere would also be prepared to move.

Any help appreciated!! :rolleyes:

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Rather than focusing on the venue, you should focus on caterers.

I got married a couple of years ago, and found a venue that would allow outside catering (You'll be surprised how many do.)

By concentrating on caterers, you will get a much better product than going to a venue that does mass boil in the bag catering.

Congratulations - let the stress begin. :wink:

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I am getting married this year and I did the same, I got the chef then found a venue that would take outside catering. My only problem has been a dizzy chef who never gets back with quotes. We have about 120 but not a big budget so I have gone for quality food but quite laid back buffet style.

The venue is near Llangollen, North Wales but that is probably no use to you.

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Have you thought of Edinburgh? Have a look at the Royal College of Physicians.


They have a panel of external caterers including the Perfect Palate who create exquisite food. www.theperfectpalate.co.uk

I will declare my interest as I work with them both, but I assure you there is feedback from some very discerning people to prove the quality!

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland


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I'm with Sadie and Anne on this.

I got married last summer. We, like you, decided to have an engagement of less than a decade and thus found all half-decent venues in the UK booked.

Most of the venues that can cater, insist on doing so which means you're restricted to the Christ-awful, wrist-slitting ghastliness of rubber chicken or thrice warmed salmon with a 'medley' of seasonal veg. (I can't even type that without retching).

This being my second marriage I was seriously considering not inviting any of my family, just for everyon'e psychiatric well-being but wiser counsel (Al) prevailed and persuaded not only to invite my parents but to throw the entire bloody thing in a marquee in their garden.

My psychotherapist was put on red alert but the whole thing went off a treat.

The problem is that wedding venues are now such enormous business that any attempt to actually control the most important day of your life is going to bugger up someone's spreadsheet.

I can only offer the following advice...

1. If you want a venue that caters and doesn't reek of the vomit of the last four bashes, be prepared to spend more than you can imagine...

2. ... and reschedule for June 2009.

3. (and you'll still be disappointed by the food)

4. Think about having the ceremony at a church/registry office and then transporting everyone to another venue for the nosh (If it helps Bournemouth registry office is beautiful and we hired a topless bus to take everyone to the reception)

5. Find a good caterer (Mine was brilliant and cheap... someone my sister-in-law was a Leiths with. I'll PM details if you fancy)

6. Have an iPod disco (a bit off the brief, I know, but we got the guests to bring their own pods with playlists they'd arranged for the occasion - we had a blast)

7. Marquees, caterers, furniture, cars... are all cheaper out in the sticks.

8. Set up your wedding list with a wine merchant. Who needs a bloody toaster and too many vases when they can be setting up a reasonable cellar to kick off into married life. The above mentioned siter-in-law happened to be a wine merchant so it was easy to set up a web page to facilitate this.

9. Finding a place, setting up a tent and getting in caterers is a pain-in-the-arse but it's nowhere near as grim as dealing with some clipboard weilding harpie at a country house hotel who promises to take care of everything then just wheels you through like bodies at a crematorium.

I reckon going off-piste is the only way.

Hope this helps

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I would definately go with the get good caterers and find a venue that lets you do your own thing. Personal experience

1) My own wedding-too many years ago to admit to but a true Northern Hotel wedding bash that my parents insisted on throwing- you know the sort- "coronet of smoked salmon" "rack of lamb" silver service that left you in fear of your life followed by an evening buffet courtesy of Brakes Bros- TAKE CONTROL or you will regret it- we have, in fact we are still saving up to have our own wedding anniversry bash to replace some memories!

2) Weddings I have run "outside" go great with independant everything, there should be no such thing as set menu A B or C. If you are offered anything like this then run for the hills

Oh- by the way do enjoy your day!!!!!!!


http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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Might not be the right part of the world for you, but we had ours at Dulwich Picture Gallery and Digby Trout did the catering. Booze from the Wine Soc and reasonable corkage. 130 people and all-in it cost less than £4000.

(BTW has anyone seen the running wedding planning gag in Man Stroke Woman on BBC2?)

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When it comes to choosing the food give a lot of thought to exactly what you want. Above and beyond all the normal prissy stuff you get, think about food that is robust enough to endure longer time overruns - also think of the weather. If it's sweltering you don't want sweaty smoked salmon or a stodgy stew.

I got married in December and wisely (I say modestly) went for a version of coq au vin for the main course. Might not be the most stunning thing to look at, but warmed the cockles and didn't suffer for being cooked too long.

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good for you beaker. i did the same myself last year. got married in a restaurant and spent all the budget on food and booze. think it's the only way to go.

the advantage of a restaurant that's done it all before is that they will think of everything for you. place cards, flowers, cake etc - they had it all under control. I did very very little in the way of organisation as a result.

can't make recommendations in the area you're looking at, but try sites like squaremeal, toptable, confetti etc they have lists of venues by capacity so you can take your pick.

stick to your guns - it will be brilliant

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For what it's worth (probably not a huge amount considering your stated preferred locations), the best food at any wedding I've been to was at Northcote Manor, near Blackburn. The sit-down dinner capacity was, I'd guess, around 40, but they also did a great bbq later on, and the nibbles to soak up the photo-accompanying drinks were excellent (mini cones of fish - salmon if I remember rightly - and chips). Lovely location as well - great for a country-house hotel style do.



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that be where me and the future Mrs W. are getting hitched in September.

Having been engaged for four years because we couldn't solve this dilemma, and the place seems pretty perfect.

I think its where our own beloved Thom is going to do it as well (though not at the same time obviously) for the same reasons.

Sit down capacity is 70 IIRC.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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I can second Winot's recommendation of Digby Trout. They did canapes and drinks at our wedding at Edinburgh Castle and they were tremendous. The food was great, the staff were extremely helpful and really listened and the bill was reasonable - with no snootiness or pressure to go beyond your budget. I understand that they do fuller menus too and run the food for quite a range of museums/galleries (which are great alternative venues for ceremonies).

We were horrified by the standard "banquering fayre" of most hotels and so went for a favourite restaurant (Atrium in Edinburgh) for the reception on the grounds that we like their food so much. It is quite amazing that the prices per head for our meal were more than half what many indifferent hotels were charging for distinctly lack-lustre mass catering. We had foie gras terrine with quince chutney made from the quinces growing in the chef's mum's garden. Then rump of lamb perfectly pink. They did a great organic chicken and veg for the children and had no problem with letting us bring our own special champagne (with reasonable corkage) and sausages from our local butcher for late night snack. The flexibility was, again, a major contract to big hotels who work to a very set formula.

Another wedding I attended last summer was very well catered by an independent caterer - a great feature was starter (locally smoked salmon and salad) and pudding (apple crumble and custard) which were both delivered in huge dishes in the centre of each table for guests to help themselves - which gave both a great sense of feasting and sharing and broke the ice on tables where not everyone knew one another.

One thing I have learned is to steadfastly ignore anyone who tells you that you have to choose chicken/salmon as "everyone likes it". We chose fairly unusual dishes and had no problems (only 1 older guest sending back his pink lamb to be cooked 'well-done' - which the kitchen charmingly did without demur or making him feel at all uncomfortable). In fact everyone is happy not to have dried up chicken again.

Best of luck with it all and hope you enjoy the process (lots of testing of food and wine...)

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if you've got the space then marquee is an excellent way to go, then you have complete control not only over the food but the drinks too.

paradoxically i gave up worrying about the food, realising that with 120+ guest in summer there's not a lot you can serve to those numbers and keep the quality right so we went for simple but done well, plated starter, may have been smoked salmon and then a huge buffet but all really well done, just the basics but when done properly there's nothing wrong with honey roasted ham and good sirloin!

then had choice of deserts & cheese again buffet style.

other advantage is you don't get ripped off on wine, my golden rule for a good wedding, get plenty of wine down the guests! Majestic are brilliant for this, it's sale or return, they deliver and do glass hire (though our caterers did it in the end), they do discounts for bulk and the buy 2 save a £1 sort of offers add up when you buy a few cases, we worked on a bottle a head!

so rather than paying £12 -13 for rubbish house wine we had georges duboeuf beaujolais, latour macon lugny, (some meursault for the top table!) pimms and champagne on arrival. Majestic is pretty much unbeatable on champagne, you can't get it cheaper in the trade most of the time. Our Caterer did the bar in the evening, we just did a pay bar, there's a limit to how much free booze you can provide, if they keep the bar takings then they'll probably not charge or just a nominal amount.

another marquee tip, the largest expense is in putting in a level floor, but they can 'dress' any building, our wedding marquee was hung inside a giant grain store with an entrance put on the side, so we had the garden to wander around in for pre-wedding drinks and then into the marquee in the evening. My friend got married in the local village hall done similarly, so that might open up a few venues for you.

at the end of the day it probably won't work out cheaper than a hotel do but it will be more personal and you have absolute control don't have to use their wine/dj's/food, or have someone coming round and telling you your wedding has to finish at 12pm because it's last orders!

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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