In October 2002 I proposed to my partner on holiday in Barbados. Following the proposal and thankfully her accepting it, all systems were go in preparing for a wedding and booking a venue was number one on the priority list!
We live in Bedfordshire and although many family members live all over the country, we were very keen on having a venue close to home. After searching around on the internet for some time we came across Offley Place, in Great Offley, Hitchin Hertfordshire, which was perfect for us, just over the Beds/Herts border. We were quick to book an appointment to go visit the venue and see the facilities in person as we were blown away by the images we had seen on the Internet!
As soon as we arrived their residential wedding planner met us; a lovely girl called Emma who showed us around and talked us through all the options for the big day. It was very welcoming from the outset and we were very impressed from first impressions. We booked Offley place there and then and placed our very small deposit required to secure the venue for our Nov 2003 wedding – we were very excited. A Civil Ceremony, followed by the Marquee room for a sit down meal, followed by the evening party in the main house (ALL TO OURSELVES!).
As the months went on we made all the usual arrangements, like booking the registrar, booking the balloons, flowers, string quartet for the walking down the isle, harpist for the sit down meal, and all the other good stuff like wedding dress, suits for the boys etc. Before we knew it the big day was upon us and there I was with my best man and usher getting ready in the gorgeous bridal suite that I was soon to be heading to bed with my new wife in. It was always a memorable day for me, other than being my wedding day of course! but that day England won the Rugby world cup, which the three of us lads managed to catch in the morning whist setting a few bits up for the event!
When I was upstairs getting ready I was of course very nervous, not for getting married but the fact that I would have all these sets of eyes behind me in a few hours. It was time, many of the days guests already arrived, I headed down the grand staircase, which later was a brilliant setting for some of out wedding photos to be taken. I headed into the Civil Ceremony room ready to have the usual chat with the registrar before it was all going to get started.
The setting was perfect, flowers arranged by my mum and friends down the isle looked fab and then the music started! Down came my gorgeous bride to meet me. The rest as they say is history! Things could only get better as the day went on, We had our photos taken around the grand house with some great settings, buy a grand piano and as previously mentioned in the great hall, pictures we’ll treasure forever taken by Derek George Photography based in Hitchin.
It was time for the sit down meal, the room was a fantastic size and decorated with perfection and service from the staff totally professional all overseen by management and our wedding planner to ensure things ran smoothly. Needless to say I was absolutely petrified about the prospect of giving my speech and thankfully with my father-in-law and best man holding me up with their great speeches, I managed to make mine short and sweet!
Before we knew it we were into the evening reception, the best party I have ever had! Great service on the bar, great area on the dance floor for some boogying later on in the evening and the buffet we chose for the evening guests was exceptional.
If I were to be able to get married again, I would most certainly be doing it at Offley Place, we both hold a special place in our hearts for this venue and because of the 4 year rugby world cup tradition, we visit every 4 years for a very posh and delicious meal there. We are approaching our 10 year anniversary now and are also looking to re-book the venue for a party with all our original guests (and new!).
We would highly recommend Offley Place to anyone wanting a great civil ceremony wedding and evening reception, and although over 10 years the cost of the venue has gone up since we paid our £1300 to have the whole place to ourselves, it is still very reasonably priced in comparison to other venues we have experienced.