Wedding Venue Review: Aynhoe Park
When my husband and I got engaged, one of the first things I set out to secure was the wedding venue. Popular wedding venues can get booked up quickly and I’ve heard of people booking more than a year in advance so I got to work straight away.
Having been to a few weddings in the past, I had a pretty good idea of the kind of place I wanted.
England rather than abroad: While I’ve had a lot of fun at destination weddings, there was not a particular destination that meant more to me and my husband than England.
Weekend wedding: half of our guests were travelling from the US and Hong Kong so we wanted to maximise our time with them.
Knowing how much our crowd liked to dance and party, we needed a venue without a strict curfew.
We wanted somewhere fun and quirky, nothing too traditional and serious.
I spent a month researching online and while I found a lot of lovely venues, I didn’t find anything that had that je ne sais quoi. I was about to give up and jokingly suggested eloping when I stumbled on this list of venues. When I saw photos of Aynhoe Park, my gut said “this is the one”. I visited the venue 3 days later and it was even more spectacular than the photos. I fell in love with it immediately and by the time we left, we had secured our wedding date. It was the only wedding venue I visited.
I was blown away by the taxidermy, art pieces and collectibles. Every time I visited, I would notice things that I hadn’t seen before, such was the extent of the collection. I knew my guests would be equally impressed and it would make for an amazing backdrop to wedding photos.
Aynhoe holds a wedding licence. As we had a humanist wedding, we needed a registrar to marry us legally. For a fee, the registrar travelled to Aynhoe on the day of our wedding and married us in the Library before our humanist ceremony.
Aynhoe Park is available to rent from Friday to Sunday (although you could hire it for longer or shorter). We hosted a welcome dinner on Friday. The wedding was on Saturday and there was a BBQ on the Sunday. There is no strict curfew, house guests can go on for as long as they like.
There are 15 bedrooms, each designed in their own unique way such as the Matthew Williamson room which was designed by the designer himself and the Kate Moss room (where the supermodel stays when she visits). The only similarities are that all bedrooms are spacious with ensuite bathrooms.The Bridal Suite has a large living area which is separate from the bedroom. My bridesmaids and I used this space for hair and makeup on the day.
The orangery is one of the most stunning parts of the house, so we used it for our ceremony. What I love about this room is the high ceiling, big windows that offer lots of natural light, the giant disco balls and the stone masonry. But the best thing about the room would be the giraffe suspended mid air with balloons. Out of all the stuffed animals dotted around the house, I thought this was the most iconic. The Orangery’s capacity is about 120 people (if seated). In the evening, we turned this space into a dance floor and performed our first dance there.
The capacity for a sit down dinner on long tables, using the dining room and the adjoining living room is about 80-90 guests. If you have less, you could use the Orangery. I’ve seen photos of dinners hosted there and it looks really atmospheric. If you have more guests, you would need to set up a marquee in the garden.
What’s as equally amazing as the decor is the staff that run Aynhoe. I didn’t use a wedding planner, but at no point did I feel that I needed one. Aynhoe has a dedicated wedding team and they were really helpful in the lead up to the wedding. They supplied us with a comprehensive list of suppliers and patiently answered any questions we had. As all the suppliers recommended by Aynhoe are tried and tested, we didn’t have to worry about their quality. They were superb and professional.
On the wedding weekend itself, the house came with a team of staff to ensure everything ran smoothly. The highlight were the butlers who were always on hand to serve guests and sort things out from pressing shirts to running to get medication for my husband’s food poisoning on the day of the wedding (an M&S sandwich eaten on the way to the venue was the culprit). At the wedding, they made announcements and directed guests. Service was beyond immaculate and they made everyone feel at home.
It’s been 6 months since the wedding, and I still look back with fond memories. If you’re after a quirky and fun venue, then Aynhoe Park is a venue that’s hard to fault.