6 quirky wedding venues in Sussex
PUBLISHED: 09:30 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 21 February 2018
We have compiled a list of beautiful, quirky venues, in case you and your betrothed fancy something a little out of the ordinary for your special day. Whether you fancy being watched over by a llama in a bow tie, embracing a Hollywood theme or saying “I do” at 450 feet, you’ll find it in Sussex
Wakehurst Place, Ardingly
You can get married at Wakehurst inside the Elizabethan Mansion or outside it on the croquet lawn, as well as in the Millennium Seed Bank – on top of the vault containing the world’s largest seed collection. If you choose to get married on the croquet lawn outside the mansion you can hire a wedding marquee tailored to your needs for up to 300 guests. Surrounded by Wakehurst’s botanic gardens, woodland and lakes, there are numerous photo opportunities for guests.
Susan Stuart, Venue Hire Manager, says: “I advise couples that whilst we advertise an outdoor ceremony, legally it must be conducted under cover, so the ceremony is conducted in the porch with guests on the lawn. The outside option ensures that the bride has an incredibly long ‘L’-shaped aisle to walk down and guests can then move down to drinks on the croquet lawn before moving into a marquee. These weddings were really popular last summer and we were lucky that we had glorious weather for them, but if it does decide to rain they can move indoors into the mansion.”
Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath
The stage is set almost all year round at these beautiful gardens, which offer plenty of choices to plant-loving couples. Colour and interest start in March with the magnificent 80-year-old magnolias which flower through to the middle of April. May is a popular month to get married at Borde Hill as the azaleas and rhododendrons are in their full glory – couples can tie the knot in the Azalea Ring or on the main lawn with a marquee in the garden or parkland.
In June and July the 500 David Austin scented roses are in full bloom and Jay Robin’s Rose Garden is the perfect setting for memorable wedding photos. “Brides also love the Italian Garden with its water lilies and pots filled with blue agapanthus which flower in late July and August. This formal part of the garden is a ‘room’, which offers a beautiful water setting with outstanding views across the parkland at any time of the year’’, says owner Eleni Stephenson Clarke, who adds that brides have asked to be photographed against specific flowers to match their colour scheme. Ceremonies on the lawn have the Elizabethan mansion house as an impressive backdrop.
British Airways i360, Brighton
The new addition to Brighton’s seafront was designed by the creators of the London Eye. From next summer, the British Airways i360 will be open to the public and from the autumn it will be available as a fully-licensed wedding venue with a stunning backdrop and unique perspective for the first few hours of married life. Various areas are available for civil ceremonies: the heritage Toll Booth or the beach buildings, where there is a function room and restaurant and stunning views of the West Pier. A private terrace overlooks Brighton Beach and the sea. However, for a truly remarkable wow factor, couples can opt for a ceremony at 450ft in the glass viewing pod, with up to 200 guests and a view of 26 miles of coastline.
There are various packages to suit different styles, party size and budgets, ranging from £70 per person for the Beach Party package to £150 per person for the Sussex Finest package. Opting for the Sussex Finest package retains the services of catering company Etch, comprising Steven Edwards, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, and Josh Stanzl, who will create a gourmet banquet for guests. As a special treat, the happy couple will receive a complimentary first anniversary champagne ride.
Southern Pavilion Worthing Pier, Worthing
The 1930s Grade II-listed Southern Pavilion at the end of Worthing Pier was completely refurbished in 2014 to restore the building to its former glory. Built in the Art Deco style, it makes an elegant and iconic venue, with the sea providing a stunning backdrop. It also seems to lend itself to a number of themes, from The Great Gatsby to golden age glamour. There are two rooms available, so both intimate and larger parties are easily accommodated (room hire for 2016 is £1,200 for the smaller room – up to 50 people – and £3,200 for the larger room). The cost of the ceremony is £400.
The venue does not accept outside catering but offers three companies and extensive menus to choose from.
Llama Park, Forest Row
Attention, animal-lovers! This unique wedding venue in Forest Row offers the opportunity get up close and personal with the cute camelids (the Marriage Barn has a window overlooking a llama pen, so the occupants can attend your ceremony in their best bow ties, should you wish!). The owners pride themselves on tailor-making every wedding to the exact specifications of the bride and groom, with owner Bobby Schuck saying “everything from the decorations and seating arrangements to the music and menus is designed just for that occasion.”
If you have lots of young guests, there is a huge amount of entertainment on hand, from the many animals, which include Spanish horses, alpacas, reindeer, donkeys, pigs and of course llamas, to a bouncy castle. With two large barns and a terrace providing three separate, but connected, areas of 3,000 square feet there is ample space for weddings of up to 120 people with the option of having a marquee attached to the main building for larger weddings. The park is a full-service venue, organising everything from the food to entertainment (although you will have to make your own arrangements with the registrar), which can make it easier to keep to budget.
The Walled Garden, Cowdray
This restored Tudor walled garden offers a beautiful setting with wide paths through rose, lavender and herbaceous borders around a central lawn. The venue consists of two function rooms, The Courtyard Room and The Castle Room, with use of the walled garden during the day. The venue is set in the grounds of Cowdray Park, next to the ruins, and offers beautiful views. Couples who get married at the venue may choose to have a civil ceremony in The Courtyard Room or under the Rose Room Pavilion in the walled garden, which is also licensed for civil ceremonies. There is no extra charge except for the fee payable to the registry office. If you choose to have your civil ceremony outside in the walled garden your guests may be seated outside in front of the pavilion on the paths and in between the borders and water feature. In wet weather the civil ceremony would be moved into The Courtyard Room where the afternoon drinks reception may be hosted after the ceremony, and where the evening reception and entertainment takes place.
The venue has a list of approved caterers who can run the wedding from set up to clearing down at the end of the evening. One previous bride, Zoe Peters, said: “Getting married in the walled garden at Cowdray was a magical experience. We married on a perfect summer’s day in June, surrounded by beautiful lavenders and flowers, whilst the harp played softly in the background...we will always remember it with the happiest memories.”