Alicia Dunning from Cheshire is our new resident bride-to-be and here, she shares her proposal story and journey to finding the perfect wedding venue
Hello, I’m Alicia and I’ll be getting married on 5th October 2019 to Phil, my partner of 11 years. I’m super excited to be blogging about our journey to the altar and hopefully providing some useful tips and insights along the way into the magical world of weddings.
As you may have guessed from the blog name, it took Phil 10 years to finally pop the question, but honestly it was worth the wait and I couldn’t be more excited about planning our big day. Phil surprised me with a romantic moon-lit dinner on the beach in the Dominican Republic last year. I’d dropped some heavy hints about wanting to get engaged but (after some secret searching of his luggage) didn’t think it would be happening any time soon, so was completely taken by surprise on the night.
Phil waited until the end of the holiday – and in fact the end of the meal – before getting down on one knee. I was blubbering so much I don’t think I even managed to say ‘yes’. We’ve booked our wedding exactly two years to the date of the proposal and are planning a rustic autumnal wedding and want the whole day to feel romantic and fun.
Our first step towards achieving this was to pick the perfect venue. I’d say the venue is probably the most important element of the wedding and helps to set the whole scene. I knew I wanted a barn so I started by using wedding directories to search for all venues of this type in the North West. I also used Google Maps to narrow the list down to venues under one-hour drive from our home – I just feel anything further than that could be too much of a journey for evening guests.
From all of the amazing venues available I managed to shortlist eight and arranged viewings within a two-week period. From these eight we had two clear favourites: Styal Lodge and Stock Farm Wedding Barn, both in Cheshire. While they are both gorgeous in their own way they are quite different, with Styal Lodge feeling very modern and Stock Farm having a much more rustic feel.
Images: Styal Lodge
In the end, we both fell head over heels for Stock Farm. It’s a stunning newly renovated barn with a courtyard and authentic stables. It perfectly balances rustic charm with a feeling of luxury and space and is set in the quaint village of Ashley among beautiful meadows. The venue also has a farmhouse on site that can sleep up to 12 which made it even more perfect because it means I can stay there the night before the wedding with my mum and bridesmaids and have some celebratory fizz.
Images: Stock Farm - my wedding venue
Here are my top tips for venue searching:
1. Visit the venue on the morning of a wedding or on an open day, as then you get to see what the venue looks like when it’s decorated and it makes it easier to visualise your wedding being there.
2. Visit the venues within a relatively short space of time so you don’t forget any details between viewings.
3. Take LOTS of photos at every venue; you’re more likely to capture the key features you loved about the venue and these will help to bring back how you felt about it.