Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Wedding Wednesday | The Venue: Rowton Castle

Did you see my overview of the wedding I posted last week? If you haven't go catch up now, we'll be right here when you get back!

So last week I chatted about the whole day, which all took place at the beautiful Rowton Castle in Shrewsbury. When Rich and I were beginning to look at wedding venues we found it really difficult. Rich is from the south coast of England, whereas I'm from the north Midlands, but we both live in Yorkshire. It made it really difficult to decide on a location, which is a pretty important first step in the wedding planning process!

I originally wanted to get married in my home town, but after looking high and low for venues, I was really struggling to find something I liked (Rich was away in Afghanistan at this point, hence why I began the search on my own - I didn't become a bridezilla til much later!), also it would have been quite a way for Rich's family and friends from home to travel, and there isn't really many nice hotel options at home.

I began to look further afield, sticking in the Midlands so it would be roughly in the middle for everyone to travel to, and I remembered a wedding I'd attended just as Rich and I got together back in 2012 which was held at Rowton Castle. I really loved the remote but romantic feel to the castle, and I thought it would fit in well with my wish to get married in winter. After waiting what seemed like an age for Rich to come home, we booked a viewing for the castle and that was it, we both fell in love with the place.

There are plenty of bedrooms at Rowton, and there is a beautiful barn conversion a very short walk away, meaning that all the guests would be able to stay. This was important to us as we didn't want people to be leaving early to travel back home, or to trek to a hotel, and it meant that if some people wanted to head to bed early, it didn't mean that their partners had to go as well.

The bridal suite is pretty stunning as well, which definitely helped! There was plenty of room for Nat and I to get ready in the morning, and a stunning four poster bed which made me feel like a princess at night.

Talking of feeling like a princess, I loved the huge staircase which I walked down on my way to talk to the registrars. It felt like I was a d├ębutante on my way to a ball or something. I was very glad of wearing converse though, especially as I was so nervous/excited.

The whole place is decorated so beautifully it meant that I didn't have to spend all my time crafting decorations for the day which is a huge bonus when you're as un-artistic as I am. We used Simply Beautiful for the chair covers, centrepieces, bay trees and ceremony table flowers (fake, because who wants to pay a bomb for something which is only going to be used for an hour?). I had scoured the internet for chair covers which would fit well enough not to look baggy and ridiculous, but not lycra ones, as I'm not a fan of how those look either. The girls at Simply Beautiful were fantastic, even replying to my emails in hospital post-birth!

The ceremony room gets converted into the reception room at Rowton Castle, like many other wedding venues. Luckily there is plenty of room in the lounge and reception area for guests to go in between. We looked at one venue where guests had to wait outside during the time the rooms got changed around, and in November, that was definitely not an option!

Having scoured the internet for pretty much every photo of every wedding ever taken at Rowton Castle (I do my homework!) I had spotted that in winter weddings, if you had the top table in front of the window then you get a lot of refection from the photographers flash during the speeches, which can ruin the photos somewhat, so that added to the other reasons as to why we chose a round top table in front of the fireplace.

How to decorate the fireplace gave me a headache and a half. I knew I didn't want flowers, but I knew I wanted to decorate it in some way, as it was going to be in the background of all the speech photos, and it just looked a touch empty with nothing on it. I must have tried every combination of words in Google, but I wasn't getting many results, until I finally decided on a Mr & Mrs decoration with some candles. The struggles still didn't end here though. Almost every Mr & Mrs block that I came across were white or shabby chic, which did not go with the wedding or the venue in the slightest. Eventually I came across the bronze coloured ones in the photo on Not On The Highstreet so they cost an arm and a leg but by that point - about a month before the wedding - I didn't care any more.

Understandably they don't allow live candles anywhere other than centrepieces, because of the fire hazard. So I got some battery powered tea lights for the gorgeous small candle holders I found in Primark, and used two battery powered candles I already had to go in the hurricane vases (from Wilkos) and added regular table sugar to stand them in. It looked like they were stood in snow close up and looked perfect. I was so glad when everything was finally sorted, and I'm pleased with how it looked.

For centrepieces we opted for simple silver candelabras which we stood on mirrored plates. Simple, classy, and it meant that people could talk around them really easily.

We kept the rest of the table decoration simple, not wanting to clutter the table too much, so there would be plenty of room for food and cameras. For favours my amazing Mum wrapped up Yankee Candle votives in navy tissue paper and tied them with ivory ribbon. It took her hours, but I am so grateful for her taking that job off me in the run up to the wedding. Nearly everyone took theirs home, so as far as favours go I think they were a success.

As the colour scheme was navy, ivory and silver, I was so happy when I saw on their website that Rowton Castle have navy water glasses you can hire. It added a lovely touch of colour to the tables, and made it clear to the slightly sozzled people which glasses were alcohol and which weren't!

The food was incredible. The blogger in me wished I had my big camera so I could document it, but alas, I was being bride, and didn't even look at my phone until getting to my room in the evening. So you'll just have to imagine how good it was instead. We got many compliments about the food, and Rowton catered to all the guests with special diets wonderfully, even when I asked to make a change two days before the wedding they had no problems in tweaking it for us.

There was a separate room for the disco to be in at the end of the night, and this was great as it meant that there was the reception room, the lounge areas and the disco room for people to spread out into, so it never felt cramped, even when the evening guests arrived. The (reasonably priced) drinks were flowing and we danced our feet off until late.

If you've read all the way through to the end of this post, have a high five. I didn't realise it was going to be this long, but I guess when you've got as much raving to do about the venue as I have it's inevitable.

Rachel x

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