Love in lockdown has had its pitfalls. No candlelit meals a deux in restaurants; no romantic weekends in Paris, or even a stay in a country inn.
But now restrictions are being lifted it’s all go. Wedding venues report a surge in enquiries, but where can you say ‘I do’ in the most perfect of settings? Here are our suggestions.
Fair play: Take over Dreamland funfair in Margate and your guests will have a ball
Couples can hire Dreamland from £4,000 and enjoy attractions such as the Ferris wheel, roller disco and roller coaster
Tie the knot at Dreamland, a funfair by the beach in Margate, Kent, before enjoying all the attractions — from Ferris wheels and a roller disco to rollercoasters — and having a dance in the Grade II-listed ballroom. Unforgettable.
How much? Hire the venue from £4,000, with a minimum spend of £7,500 for catering and extras. It can host up to 800 guests, too (dreamland.co.uk).
Why it’s special: All the fun of the fair… and fantastic pictures.
BRIDES IN BUCKS
The 12th-century Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire, pictured, is set in 10 splendid acres of countryside
It’s a fine setting, with the main building updated over the centuries, and now in Regency Gothic style
What better place for a wedding than an abbey? The 12th-century Missenden Abbey, in ten acres of splendid Buckinghamshire countryside, used to be home to Augustinian monks. It’s a fine setting, with the main building updated over the centuries, and now in Regency Gothic style popular in the 19th century.
How much? From about £4,500 for up to 50 people (missendenabbey.co.uk).
Why it’s special: The sense of history — and ghosts of the monks.
Pendennis Castle, pictured, is on a headland overlooking Cornwall’s dramatic Falmouth peninsula
Couples can exchange vows in Pendennis Castle’s 450-year-old circular keep, pictured, or in the castle’s Royal Artillery Barracks
Say ‘I do’ in the 450-year-old circular keep of Pendennis Castle on a headland overlooking Cornwall’s dramatic Falmouth peninsula. Alternatively, exchange vows in the castle’s Royal Artillery Barracks. The champagne reception is in the grassy Chemise next to the keep.
How much? From £2,450; up to 120 for a sit-down dinner (english-heritage.org.uk).
Why it’s special: Magnificent views, plus guests can stay in the Custodian’s House or cottages by the castle.
YORKSHIRE ‘I DO’
The 17th century Carlton Towers, pictured, is set in 250 acres of North Yorkshire parkland
Couples can book the country house for exclusive use and have the run of the grand staterooms and informal bar
Carlton Towers is an enchanting 17th-century country house in 250 acres of North Yorkshire parkland. Book the house and gardens exclusively and you can use everything from the grand staterooms to the informal bar tucked under the Minstrels’ Gallery.
How much? From £2,000-£6,000 for up to 250 guests; from £70 a head for the wedding breakfast; guest rooms from £225 with breakfast (carltontowers.co.uk).
Why it’s special: The grand Yorkshire countryside view.
A wedding at the Grade I-listed St Pancras International Station in London, pictured, could be just the ticket
Wedding ceremonies at St Pancras International can take place on the Grand Terrace, with the reception held in the champagne bar below
Enjoy the romance of rail travel with a wedding at the Grade I-listed St Pancras International Station in London. Following the ceremony on the Grand Terrace, the reception is in a champagne bar beneath the station arches, with dancing until 3am.
How much? From £73.50pp for up to 400 guests (stpancrasbysearcys.co.uk).
Why it’s special: The honeymoon getaway couldn’t be easier with the Eurostar a few steps away.
The Tudor courtyard is a star attraction at Fulham Palace, a venue that was once a Thameside home to the Bishops of London
A marquee set for a wedding at Fulham Palace. Weddings here start from £2,000 and go up to £10,000
Grade I-listed with medieval roots, Fulham Palace was once a Thameside home to the Bishops of London. Now it makes a great wedding venue with its atmospheric Victorian chapel for blessings. The Tudor courtyard is a star attraction for drinks in good weather.
How much? From £2,000 midweek and £10,000 for a Saturday in summer for up to 120 guests; catering from £140pp (fulhampalace.org).
Why it’s special: It has a fantastic river setting.
Down Hall in Essex, pictured, is set in 110 acres of lovely parkland and can cater for up to 180 wedding guests
Inside the room at Down Hall where the wedding breakfast is held. Wedding packages start from £165pp
If you watched The Great British Bake Off 2020, Down Hall and its marquee in Hatfield Heath, Essex, will be familiar to you. Enjoy your ‘send off’ from single life in the Bake Off HQ — making sure you have ordered a suitably ornate cake.
How much? It’s licensed for up to 180 guests; wedding packages from £165pp (downhall.co.uk).
Why it’s special: After the ceremony, drinks and cake, enjoy a stroll in the 110 acres of lovely parkland.
SCOTTISH LOVE BOAT
Couples can take to the water by getting married on the former Northern Lighthouse Board ship Fingal, which is in Edinburgh’s port of Leith
The ship has a magnificent ballroom, pictured, and 23 cabins. It can cater for up to 100 guests
Enjoy a wedding on water by taking over the former Northern Lighthouse Board ship Fingal, berthed close to the Royal Yacht Britannia in the historic Edinburgh port of Leith. There’s a magnificent ballroom plus 23 cabins for guests and a ‘cabin suite’ for the bride and groom.
How much? Price on request; up to 100 guests (fingal.co.uk).
Why it’s special: Getting married on a boat — that wobbly feeling after a couple of glasses of bubbly may just be the ship bobbing on the water.
For couples really wanting to splash the cash, they could book out the entire Cliveden country house hotel in Berkshire, pictured
The room where wedding ceremonies can take place. The Cliveden estate terrace commands a sweeping view across the Thames
Cliveden can be hired from £30,000 a night and up to 120 guests can be catered for at dinner
Money no object? If so, book the whole of Cliveden, a country house hotel in 376 acres in Berkshire, and the setting of the infamous 1960s Profumo Affair.
Enjoy the stately rooms with their antiques, grand pianos and gilded portraits of the Astor family who used to live here — as well as the sweeping view across the Thames from the terrace.
How much? From £30,000 a night, with use of 48 bedrooms; up to 120 guests for dinner (clivedenhouse.co.uk).
Why it’s special: The sheer splendour of the house and its setting.