Venue visits

Beautiful wedding venues: Newington House, Oxfordshire

I've had a lot of fun over the past few months visiting wedding venues all over the country and I'm thrilled to feature another stunning marquee venue today. Once the home of an Italian princess, it’s safe to say that wedding venues rarely get more romantic than Newington House…


Set in the picturesque Oxfordshire countryside, 11 miles south-east of Oxford, Newington House dates from the mid-17th century. The estate was built as a gift for a homesick Italian princess from her British husband and is believed to be a replica of her home in Genoa. Inside, the high-ceiled rooms have been beautifully restored and stylishly furnished to reflect the house’s unique history. 


I met the owner, Alexandra Nettleton, for a chat and a look around just before Christmas. For such a grand property, it felt very homely and relaxed. It was lovely to hear that she and her family enjoy seeing how couples make the venue their own. 

There are two historic churches close by - St Giles Church, which adjoins the house, and Dorchester Abbey, which is five miles away. Alternatively, Newington House is licensed to hold civil ceremonies and one option could be to have your ceremony outside on the front porch before walking through the elegant entrance hall to the back lawn.


The lawn makes for a magnificent marquee location. In fact, against the backdrop of the house, your guests would be forgiven for thinking they’d been transported to Tuscany! The extensive grounds are a delight to explore and offer many opportunities for stunning photography. There are manicured lawns, beautiful trees and even a river running through the bottom of the garden.


It’s undoubtedly a special venue and well worth a visit…


If you would like help finding your dream wedding venue, I offer a venue search service. I will research a shortlist of potential options based on your needs and wants, potentially saving you hours of painful admin and wasted visits. For more information, please email

Photo credits: Gyan Gurang. Gyan is a wedding photographer based in Surrey. He has a very romantic style and his natural images capture moments and events as they unfold.

For more information about weddings at Newington House, please visit their website or call 07786 087 201.

Beautiful wedding venues: Wickham House

Last week I had the pleasure of being shown around Wickham House by Deputy Venue Manager Isabel Stewart. Wickham House sits in 52 acres of parkland and looks out over the rolling Berkshire countryside. The house itself dates from the late 18th century and boasts many splendid period features. It is the much-loved home of Philippa and James D’Arcy, who have spent the last ten years transforming it into the spectacular exclusive-use wedding venue it is today. It is a truly wonderful setting for a luxury marquee wedding. 

Visiting any venue during the winter months requires more than a little imagination. Chilly winds, wet grass and rather colourless gardens all make it difficult to picture your wedding day. Kate Nielen's beautiful photographs certainly helped me visualise Wickham House in the summer, but in truth it wasn’t hard to see its potential - despite the weather!

Wickham House Kate Nielen Photography

Getting married at Wickham House

There are several options for your marriage ceremony at Wickham House. Isabel began by showing me the charming 12th century church that adjoins the estate and comfortably seats up to 200 guests - quite a large number for a parish chapel. Usually after a church wedding, an undignified scramble into cars and mini-buses ensues. Not at Wickham House. Here, your drinks reception is only a few steps away.

Wickham Church Kate Nielen Photography

Should you wish to have a civil ceremony, you have the option of getting married in the romantic surroundings of the Walled Garden. Through a set of wrought iron gates, the pebble pathway leads you to an immaculate sunken lawn where 180 guests could watch you marry beneath the elegant pagoda. Come May/June, when the garden is ablaze with colour, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Italy!

Wickham House Walled Garden wedding Kate Nielen Photography
Wickham House walled garden wedding Kate Nielen Photography

The third option for your ceremony is inside the newly-built Barn that sits beside main house. This also provides a homely setting for a rehearsal dinner and, on the wedding day itself, looks like a lovely space for the bridal party to get ready.

A photographer's heaven

As you would expect, the gardens offer lots of beautiful backdrops for photographs, as do the many established trees that dot the grounds. Inside the house, Isabel showed me several characterful rooms that are available to use for group shots and couple portraits.

Wickham House interior Kate Nielen Photography
Wickham House bridal bedroom Kate Nielen Photography

A truly memorable wedding reception

It is hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for a drinks reception than the Walled Garden. Its winding paths connect a series of landscaped terraces and guests are free to wander from one to the next, discovering different drinks and canapé stations as they go. The terrace beside the turquoise swimming pool is the perfect stage for live musicians, but the pool itself is one place guests aren't encouraged to explore!

Wickham House Walled Garden pool Kate Nielen Photography

Across the manicured lawns from the house, sits an impressive marquee site. With views out across the downs on one side and back towards the house on the other, it is an outstanding setting and would make for an unforgettable evening celebration. I could almost picture the fireworks going off at the end of the night!

Wickham House views Kate Nielen Photography

An exciting choice of preferred suppliers

Wickham House have a varied list of preferred suppliers, spanning high-end marquee companies, florists and caterers. Most have been personally hand-picked by Philippa based on their high quality and experience.

As I drove away, my mind was buzzing with ideas. Wickham House could as easily stage a luxury festival celebration, complete with glamping village, as it could a quintessentially English wedding, followed by a traditional reception.

I hope it’s not long before I’m back…


If you would like help finding your dream wedding venue, I offer a venue search service. I will research a shortlist of potential options based on your needs and wants, potentially saving you hours of painful admin and wasted visits. For more information, please email

Photo credits: Kate Nielen. Kate is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer based in London. She specialises in beautiful weddings and luxury events.

For more information about weddings at Wickham House, please visit their website

Top tips for choosing your wedding venue

Over the next few months I’m going to be hitting the road, hoping to discover some really special wedding venues. I can’t wait to see the potential and meet the owners and managers who, like me, eat, sleep and breathe weddings!

Seeing as I’ll be visiting many of these venues for the first time, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my top tips for choosing a venue.

Forde Abbey looking resplendent

1. Take your time

Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest (and most expensive!) decisions you’ll make, so it’s worth allowing plenty of time to look around. Don’t try to visit so many in one day that you feel rushed before you start.

When you first walk in, ask yourselves ‘does this feel like us?’ It’s a bit like buying a home. Walk from room to room; sit at the tables and even dance on the dance floor! Can you imagine yourselves getting married there? Can you picture your friends and family having a great time? If the answer is ‘no’, move on!

2. Find out what’s included

Let’s face it; many of us sign on the dotted line without reading the t’s and c’s. When you’re choosing your wedding venue, you really can’t afford to skip to the bottom. Find out exactly what is and isn’t included in the hire charge. For example, does the price include accommodation? Does the venue have an in-house coordinator? Do they charge corkage? Don’t assume anything and remember that there is no such thing as a silly question.

It is well worth checking when you’ll be allowed to access the venue either the day before your wedding or on the morning itself. Ask what time you have to vacate the following day.

3. Check the capacity

Wedding venue visit inside Forde Abbey.jpg

It’s essential that you know how many guests you’re intending to invite before you book your wedding venue. Some venues have a minimum number as a well as a maximum. Keep in mind that towards the upper limit, everything may feel quite cramped! It’s hard to imagine how much room a table takes up, so ask to see photographs of the venue laid up for a dinner of a similar size to yours.

4. Ask about preferred suppliers

Most venues will give you a list of their preferred suppliers. Some will be happy for you to choose your own, others will only permit those they’ve worked with before. If this is the case, check you’re happy with the options and that they’re within your budget. This is particularly important when it comes to the caterer. If you have set your heart on a particular style of food make sure that this is something their preferred caterer can accommodate.

Similarly, find out if there are any restrictions on decorations. Some wedding venues have strict rules about the use of candles, for example.

5. Did you get along?

The wedding industry is a very friendly place and, remarkably, most venues manage to make you feel like yours is their only wedding! But if you didn’t get along with the team who showed you around, or you didn’t receive a reply to an email you sent, this should ring alarm bells…!


I hope these tips are useful. If you would like a comprehensive list of questions to ask your venue, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner to receive your free copy.

Photo Credits: Forde Abbey, as captured by Annie Spratt