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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Say "I Do" in Britain

Words by Jennifer Purdie

With lavish gardens and high-brow venues, jetting across the pond for ceremonies reminiscent of fairytales from your youth is becoming quite fashionable. Last year, the Office of National Statistics released that the number of weddings in England and Wales jumped 5.3 percent in 2012 and is 13 percent higher than three years ago. If heading out of the country for a British destination wedding peaks your curiosity, I’ve rounded up a few locales to provide a variety of British experiences, depending on your style and interest.

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Downton Abbey Fans
Brides can feel like an extra on the set of the ubiquitous television show at Highclere Castle, known as the real Downton Abbey. The castle offers a wedding coordinator to assure the event runs smoothly and makes opting for a destination ceremony seamless and easy. Weather permitting, the lawns can be used for part of the reception – making for stellar photography.

Food Tip: When choosing the menu for your special day, the castle can prepare specialty fare from the Victorian era – making all guests feel like they are truly living in Downton Abbey times.

Live Like Royals
 
With 2,000 acres of lush landscape, Blenheim Palace gives brides a step-back-in-time experience to the British days of yore. With its grandiose, over-the-top size, the palace offers a choice of venues such as The Long Library – with extended, decorated tables seating dozens in a straight line similar to any fancy dinner party scene depicting British aristocracy.   

Wedding Party Tip: Stay in the nearby MacDonald Bear Hotel located 500 meters from the gates of the Palace, allowing everyone to party into the wee hours of the night and not feel the burden of arranging transportation.  

Harry Potter Lovers
Harry Potter enthusiasts can marry where Hogwarts’ scenes were filmed in one of Britain’s most iconic palaces: Alnwick Castle. Brides can choose a cinematic wedding experience and say their vows under stone archways and pose for photos with sweeping views of the Northumbrian landscape.

Booking Tip: Reserve the ceremony during the castle’s off-season and the wedding party can sip on cocktails at the Castle Courtyard and socialize on the cobblestones.

Traditional London Experience
Laid-back brides and grooms with beer-loving friends can receive their wedding toasts with alcohol poured straight from the tap at a London pub. You can reserve a backroom of a pub or rent it out as a private party and serve British bar grub like fish and chips.

Food Tip: Rather than sit-down dinners, lay out baskets of fried foods with alternating veggie platters for contrast and to please discerning palates.

Go Medieval
Brides who love attending Renaissance festivals or prefer an out-of-the-box reception should consider celebrating their special day at Barley Hall. In the heart of York, this venue offers flickering lights, medieval décor and English pudding as a dessert option. With low-cost packages, it is possible to offer guests a one-of-kind experience while staying within budget.

Glamour Tip: Ask for the red carpet treatment – literally. The hall can provide a red carpet for a first-class welcome. 

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Alnwick Castle, Highclere Castle, Blenheim Palace & Bon Vivant London Pub.

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