Over the past few months I’ve been on a hunt for a very special wedding venue for 2017 – for my own wedding! My partner and I have a unique dream and wanted to get married in a cave by the sea. We envisioned an elemental outdoor wedding away from a traditional church setting, seeped in nature and organic spirituality. A celebration that looks and feels like a mixture of Game of Thrones, Conan the Barbarian and a wild pagan festival. We are hoping to get married in late summer / early Autumn when the seasons are changing and nature is at her most vibrant. I’ll be using this blog to document every step of the way.
Whilst we want to indulge in our ideal fantasy, we’re not millionaires and have to keep costs realistic, there are lots of logistical things to consider too. On a practical level, my family are mostly from West Yorkshire and my finance’s are spread out across the UK and USA, I also have two very frail Grandparents who can’t travel far. Budget, access and location are crucial.
After a couple of months of research I’ve found that there are plenty of gorgeous wedding caves in warmer climates such as the Palace of the Sea (above) in Italy, Jamaica, Bermuda and a few down South in Devon and Exeter (and even some underground cave restaurants in Scotland) but not many in the North West of England. Making sure that my grandparents are present and comfortable is a huge concern for me, so the cave wedding dream had to be adapted.
Changing our direction, but still bearing in mind the key elements, we decided to look for venues a little closer to home that still had the old-worldly atmosphere and could capture the magical feel. We found The Priest’s House at Barden Tower, a gorgeous ruined medieval castle nr Skipton in West Yorkshire. This venue has three different spaces for ceremonies and a reception venue decked out in medieval Gothic furniture.
Whilst the space was gorgeous and very well suited aesthetically, the minimum price for food was around £42 per head (on top of the venue hire fee) and there was no option to allow other caterers on site. Catering is such a huge part of the wedding budget and dictates how many of your friends and family you can share your big day with. Having worked with caterers in the past who have put together 5 meat carverys for £18 per head (including Vension!) we simply couldn’t justify such a high figure. The reception would also have to finish at 11pm at night which just didn’t work with our festival feel. After spending so much money on a once in a lifetime event we don’t want to be told when to go to bed!
Then last wkend Alternative Weddings MCR found another option that might just be the perfect location. Cae Mabon in Snowdonia is an eco-retreat tucked away in the Welsh woodland that would need little in the way of decoration to turn it into a sacred pixie paradise! On site is a hot tub, sauna, a mini labyrinth and a collection of cute little cob houses for guests to sleep in. It really does give us the option to plan a whole weekend of activities that celebrate family, love and community.
We’ll be doing a site visit soon so stay tuned to see if this beautiful space in a totally natural setting is the perfect place for our elemental eco-wedding.