Real Life Bride: Megan’s Venue Search
Credit: Anneli Mariniovch
Hi lovelies! Today we welcome back Megan, our Autumn real-life bride who’s sharing her hunt for the perfect venue. Once you’ve picked your venue, all the other ideas and details start coming together (I promise, they really do!), so we know it’s a tough one! Megan’s search involved satisfying hubby-to-be Olly’s foodie cravings, her own (imagined!) dream venue, a change of date and a cross-Europe move. So if she can do it, I know you can too!
I’ve had the image of the perfect wedding location in my mind for as long as I can remember. The big problem with the image in my head is that it’s not a real place. It was constructed entirely in my (very detail-specific) imagination, bit by bit, over my entire life. And the place I created set some very high standards for any real location I would come upon. I am Catholic, and knew from the beginning that the ceremony would be in a church. The reception venue, however, was an entirely different matter. I have officially banned myself from Pinterest because, after years of knowing I wanted an elegant, traditional location, I found myself thinking, “Maybe a shabby chic farm party is the way to go…! Ahhhh, but this penthouse loft with panoramic city views is sooooo cool!”. It’s great to explore the options, but I came back to what I knew I wanted from the start.
Originally, we were going to have the wedding in Germany (we lived in Frankfurt when we were first engaged). With nothing aside from daily German lessons to occupy my time in my new country of residence, I became completely obsessed with all things wedding. Does anyone else have those days when you tell yourself after lunchtime that you’ll look for locations online “just for 30 minutes”, then slip out of some planning-induced stupor hours later when you realise you’re sitting in the dark because the sun has gone down? Oh, the shame… At any rate, brides in Germany are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to venues. You can pretty much be standing anywhere in Germany with your eyes closed, throw a rock, and it will hit a castle. However, while I was focused on the aesthetics of the venue, my groom-to-be had food billed as the number one priority.
We lived in Frankfurt, so we tried to keep the search within an hour of the city. Our first option was the stunning Schloss Johannisberg in the Rhinegau, which is one of Germany’s most famous wine-producing regions. The Schloss (or palace) is home to a fantastic winery and sits atop a hill overlooking the Rhine and its picturesque villages. Sadly, there was only one caterer option, and the food was just not up to the standard we were looking for.
Our next two contenders were more foodie-friendly. Schloss Kronberg is, without a doubt, the first place I would recommend to anyone who wants a storybook fairytale backdrop. The approach is through a wooded valley in one of Germany’s most affluent areas. Massive, intricately-scrolled iron gates let you know something fantastic is waiting at the end of the drive. The Schloss itself is straight out of a Disney movie. The main building is so impressive, it’s almost intimidating. The grounds are spectacular, complete with stables and a grotto, and every inch of the interior is bedecked with tapestries, marble busts, suits of armour, and oversized paintings of some very serious-looking royals. The downside was that it was a bit too large to hire exclusively, meaning other guests would be staying at the hotel. With that in mind, we kept our options open.
The Villa Rothschild in Königstein was our third and favourite option. We already had a personal connection, as Olly cooks at a fantastic event there each summer. It is a stunning chateau with tons of character, and has accomplished the difficult task of balancing modern updates while preserving its centuries-old beauty. Additionally, it played an important historical role as the planning location for the rebuilding of germany following World War II, which the politics dork in me positively loved. Most importantly, it is the home of a Michelin-starred restaurant, which provides the catering for weddings, and the entire villa would be exclusively ours for the day. We didn’t realise it at first, but that ended up being the most important criteria for our location. Not that there is anything wrong with having a wedding in a location shared with other guests (sometimes there’s just no way around it), but we really were looking to create a very intimate environment with a lot of personal touches. We were close to committing to the location and choosing a date when we decided to delay the wedding for one year.
Credit: Especially Amy via English Weddings
Good thing we did, because Olly was offered a job in London,and we relocated just a few weeks later! I was beyond nervous when we moved to London. We had already changed plans once and committed to having the wedding in 2014. Now we were starting from scratch with 12 months to go. That probably seems like a lot to some of you, but I had only one location in mind, which I had never seen and didn’t know the name of. Not a strong start. Someone I worked with during uni mentioned a stunning conservatory venue in Twickenham on the grounds of an estate. I started googling keywords and, lo and behold, found Syon Park. Olly was working seven days a week leading up to the restaurant opening, but I coaxed him into taking one day off to visit Syon. I had put all of my eggs in one basket and was praying it would be a winner. From the second we walked through the gates, I knew it was right. It really was that place I had imagined from childhood that I thought I would never be able to find. I tried to hide my enthusiasm in order to preserve some shred of bargaining power. That went out the window when I could see that Olly was clearly impressed, which does not happen easily. We left that day, looked at each other, and both agreed that we had found it.
In the end, after all the dreaming and obsessing and (I don’t want to know how many) hours researching, the first location this very picky couple found and visited turned out to be the one!