Well, I hope to explain our reasons here.
First off, neither of us is particularly religious, so a church wedding was off the cards from the beginning, especially when you consider they charge just as much as venues and the local council charge for civil services.
We also didn't want to do the local registry office thing. Wokingham's registry office is quite a small place and isn't the most exciting or interesting of places to get married.
So our only choice really was to find a licensed venue. To keep things simple we opted for a single venue for the ceremony, breakfast and evening reception. We did our research, drew up a short list and booked our "viewing" appointments.
The New Mill was the first place we visited and the one that completely blew us away, and in the end was the place we opted for for several reasons:
The food and service is awesome.
I took Claire there for a birthday several years ago and we were bowled over by the great food and fantastic service. It's a little on the expensive side, but well worth every penny.
It's a beautiful building and location
The New Mill is a beautiful grade II listed building situated in immaculately maintained gardens on the edge of the River Blackwater. Everyone loves a beautiful venue, and The New Mill is really beautiful. I took several photos on the day we first visited (scattered around this page). Unfortunately, my "inside" pictures below don't do The New Mill any justice. Be sure to check out the pictures in their gallery too.
They sold themselves without assuming anything and without being pushy
As I said above, The New Mill was the first venue we visited and the ONLY one to really sell themselves to us, without the big sales pitch and without assuming anything or treating us like fools.
Stephen, the manager, really sold the venue to us as a viable location when we were looking for a venue last year. He was professional, friendly, polite and explained the whole day to us and made useful suggestions and comments.
During our first meeting with Stephen he ran through a typical wedding day including times things could happen, how Claire could enter across the bridge and even detailed how his team could assist us through the day to really make it special, if we wanted them to do so. None of the other places treated us so well and explained things out so well and clearly.
They also didn't attempt to charge us for the coffee like some other places we visited.
I've put this last as it was the least of our worries, but still important. Claire and I had no intention of having a huge event with a huge budget, but The New Mill actually ended up quoting us a very reasonable quote. They don't charge an arm and a leg for the venue hire, and they try to keep wastage to a minimum by only charging for what you use. For example, the wine served during the breakfast was poured on an "as needed" basis rather than plonking X number of open bottles on each table, which may or may not have been drunk.
So, if you're planning a wedding anytime soon, do take the time out to go visit Stephen at The New Mill and have a look around. You won't be disappointed. Oh and don't be fooled thinking they can only cater for small events - they have a huge marquee at the bottom of the garden to cater for those with lavish budgets and a million and one friends.
I know this post seems like an advert for The New Mill but it was a fantastic place to have our wedding. Their food, service and professionalism was so amazing, the least we could do is push a little more traffic their way.