As every newly engaged couple knows, picking the perfect venue is vital to your wedding day. Yet, the second you mention the word “wedding” everything – whether its flowers, venue, hair or catering – seems to quadruple in price. With the average UK wedding now costing an eye-watering £27,000+ (in the South East at least!) some of us are looking for creative ways to help keep costs down. That’s where your local pub may be able to help.
Heading to the pub
My husband and I held our wedding reception at the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, a true local for us both of us living in the area. The Fighting Cocks claims to be the oldest pub in Britain and is architecturally beautiful with low beams, beautiful woodwork, a fantastic range of beers and a garden that overlooks Verulanium park.
The landlord Christo couldn’t have been more helpful with planning our day. They don’t usually do weddings as its not particularly cost effective for the pub, but Christo was willing to pull out all the stops for us because we “were like family”. He closed down the pub for the sole use of the wedding party and helped decorate and put on a fantastic food spread.
The atmosphere exceeded our expectations. After a more formal ceremony at a manor home down the road, we wanted to let our hair down and have a relaxed party vibe in the evening. The pub was perfect – our guests were able to come and go as they needed (which was particularly important given that it was on a Thursday). At the same time, we still retained the “wedding” atmosphere as we reserved the cutting of the cake and the first dance for the reception.
Some brides-to-be might shy away from the pub because it isn’t “wedding-y” enough, but I didn’t find this to be the case at all. I was blessed with an incredibly photogenic pub in the first place, but in addition we were also able to set up decorations – bunting, flowers, balloons etc in advance and have the place to ourselves. Christo (the landlord) even ordered his table flowers for the week based on my wedding colours and set them out with tea lights on every table.
It was such a beautiful day that we spent most of the evening outside in the pub garden, but we could have easily been happy inside if needed. We had more than enough space for all of our friends and family – the pub garden had a fantastic view over the park and pond, lots of seating and dancing space as well as an outdoor bar, food serving area and an area for a band.
We started the party with cutting the cake (of cheese, mind you!) and our first dance. I was particularly impressed with the willingness of the staff to help set up our cake and then take it away to cut and present it to our guests even though it wasn’t bought through the pub directly. The local band Katie plus Juan – a regular duo at the pub – kicked it off with Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer and soon everyone was on the dance floor for most of the evening. I even managed to get my dad out for a dance!
The BBQ the pub organised was brought out in between music sets and couldn’t have been further from traditional “pub grub”. Cous cous salads, pork belly, roast chicken and the likes were on the menu. It was a great spread and there was more than enough to go around and plenty extra. Of course there was also an ample range of fantastic beers available, including the pub’s very own “Black Listed IBA” brewed by Farr brewery – a dark hoppy real ale that is one of my own personal favourites.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur of dancing, laughing, chatting and general good fun out in the garden until about midnight when I could no longer stand up on my feet.
You can probably guess that I would highly recommend a pub wedding. I wont go into exact costs, but on the whole I’d say hosting our reception at the local was an incredibly affordable way to have the big party and feed 150 people.
What really stood out above all else was the willingness of Christo and the staff at the pub to go above and beyond to make our day as special as possible. From ordering flowers to fit in with our colour scheme to seamlessly organising the cake cutting and putting up the decorations we felt incredibly well catered for. It didn’t feel like they were just “doing their job” to make our wedding run smoothly, but rather were an extension of our friends and family coming together to make our day as special as possible.
It really was one of the most wonderful days of our lives, and we couldn’t thank our local pub more for being part of it.