When it comes to choosing a venue, Laura and Dan advise to go with gut instinct. They fell head over heels in love within minutes of seeing Stanbrook Abbey and sure enough couldn’t have imagined spending their day anywhere else.

Wedding venues can differ in atmosphere, style, location and size, so how do you know when you have found the one? It is normally your biggest expense, can dictate the style of your wedding and it is difficult to plan anything else until this is finalised, so before you visit your shortlisted venues, ensure you have a budget in place and it meets all of your expectations (make an inventory of must-haves). Above all, try and enjoy your search.

They say choosing the right venue is like buying a house – you should pretty much know immediately whether it is right. Trust that initial reaction and if you can visualise spending your day with loved ones there, It is most likely the perfect venue – that is what Laura and Dan found when they took a private tour of Stanbrook Abbey Hotel

Laura takes up the story: “The venue really is perfect – it has everything you need all in one place. I knew it was right almost immediately – the fact I cried when I stood at the top of the steps to the Callow Great Hall with its stunning vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows, imagining walking down the aisle on our special day, signified it was where we should start the rest of our life together.”

For Laura and Dan the grand Victorian former monastery stood out as an impressive venue with so much more to offer than all the other venues they were considering – from the Papa's Snug, a room for the Father of the bride to practice his speech to the parlour space where all the girls got ready in the morning.

“I stayed the night before with my parents and bridesmaids in the Brides Manor, while Dan gathered with all his men in the Grooms Room to prepare. It definitely helped to settle our nerves and make it more than just one day.”

Leading up to the day all of the stress of planning was taken out thanks to having a wedding coordinator in place. Laura explains: “She was there to hold my hand through the months leading up to the big day. She was always on the end of the phone and email should we have any questions or queries, suggested some great ideas and went through the plan of the day with us in minute detail.

“On the day, our events manager was great – he couldn't do enough for us or our guests, who commented on the service they had received and were also very impressed. All of the details that we wanted, but on the day you don't have time to think about, were taken care of. So, for example, we wanted the decorative jars that were placed down the aisle, moved and lit by the fire pit during the evening and Stanbrook arranged this for us, and made it look amazing. They were attentive without being intrusive.”

By complete coincidence the colour theme for Laura and Dan’s wedding complimented the venue perfectly. Opting for ivory and rose taupe, incorporating the hues in the bridesmaid dresses, flowers and décor (think candles, jars, table name holders) together with lace trims and embellishment, it blended in perfectly with the older features of Stanbrook Abbey while also tying in nicely with the less formal and modern George’s Bar. “My cathedral length veil worked perfectly in the old chapel,” adds Laura. 

And while a memorable part of day was walking down the aisle, the best part for our newlyweds was walking around the entire grounds at dusk, after their wedding breakfast where the photographers captured some shots of them spending some precious moments together. “It was all very natural and relaxed, and Daniel and I got to spend some alone time to discuss the events of the day so far. 

“We also enjoyed the five minutes straight after the ceremony, where we escaped to Lovers Balcony overlooking the Abbey, toasting our marriage with champagne looking out at our family and friends, whilst they made their way back to the main entrance for the confetti throw.”

While no one wants their wedding day to ever end, it at least finished on a high with the band keeping the guests dancing all night long with an eclectic mix of Motown and jazz.

Photography by Rob & Sarah Gillespie