Ashridge Great Barn - A rustic festival themed wedding adventure
The most perfect venue for a festival themed wedding
Every now and again, I reach out and introduce myself to venues in the hope that they will remember me if a couple asks about entertainment. Even though I hadn't been there before, the staff at Ashridge Great Barn went above and beyond what I expected. They invited me along and said, "It would be great to show you around, have a cup of tea and a chat."
And if there's one thing I learned from my visit, it's this.
Calling Ashridge Great Barn a 'Wedding Venue' just doesn't seem to fit.
I was met by the manager Cat who welcomed me with home made cake - I would have a photo if I didn't eat it so quickly so you'll have to use your imagination instead... And this photo of my face not long after gobbling it up.
With a waggy farm pooch at her side, Cat went into the history of the grounds and barn which goes back hundreds of years (Detailed history is available on their website below) before leading me into the barn.
From the outside, it looked like an ordinary barn.
Inside, the rustic character is enhanced by the high open roof and twinkling fairy lights wrapped around the visible wooden framework.
The windows let in just the perfect amount of light and gave me a glimpse out into the surrounding farmland.
Very 'Darling buds of may'
(Google it if you're not old enough to know what that is).
- Your photographer/ videographer would love this place. The contrast of light that you get from natural lit buildings like this will not only make their life easier but your photographs will have a much more magical feel. -
The biggest problem I face being a daytime entertainment specialist (I think I'll use that as my job title from now on) is the weather.
In my experience, we can never guarantee whether your guests will need sun cream or an umbrella but luckily Cat insists on having a plan for both.
There is an indoor seating area at the back of the Barn with a multitude of mismatched sofas which would make a rainy drinks reception a warm and cosy place when the rain is dancing overhead.
If the weather is good, there is an outside seating area under a canopy and a firepit for late evening marshmallow roasting.
After I'd witnessed the most beautiful and unusual bathroom furniture I've ever seen, absolutely perfect for the Barn, it was time to see the rest of the grounds.
Just a short walk up from the barn is the garden grounds with the main house in the centre. There is some accommodation but I was told that it is common for guests to camp locally. Authentic Festival style!
The path leading up from the Barn is surrounded by all kinds of different flowers and trees framing the view of the rolling Devon hills.
I half expected to see Frodo Baggins pop out of a bush to steal my apples and call me names. (I think I took away a different lesson from Lord of the rings)
All of a sudden the path opens out into a grassy clearing. I can imagine how lovely this would be as a drinks reception area, with kids playing lawn games and everyone enveloped in chilled acoustic music.
Don't forget, while you're getting photos taken, your guests have to put up with that weird cousin that no one likes. Give them something to talk about with some live entertainment.
Outdoor ceremony area
As if that isn't enough... In the far corner of the clearing is a faded, yet colourful doorway which takes you through a 10 foot high finely pruned bush/wall (Sorry garden folk, I wish I knew what it was called!) and into what felt like a secret garden.
This was an out door ceremony area the likes of which I've never seen. 'Seen' is the wrong word... Experienced.
When walking in, there's the feeling that nothing else exists outside of these verdant walls. Various trees surround the ceremony seating area which all blossom different colours. I was getting serious Game of Thrones and Ghost of Tsushima vibes.
I was lead around the whole area by Cat who was so accommodating and full of interesting facts about the farmhouse and history of the site. She also mentioned a 3rd optional outdoor ceremony area. Unfortunately I didn't get to see it but I'm sure you'll find everything you need to know on their website-
Cat and the team pride themselves on giving their clients as much freedom as possible. Of all the areas I visited, nothing was out of bounds and anything is possible in terms of wedding schedule and layout.
There has also been a recent change in the law which states that you can marry anywhere on the premises of a licenced venue (apparently a roof overhead is no longer required in England but registrars can refuse if the area isn't ideal).
There's so much about Ashridge Great Barn which I can't put into words, so I made a video instead taking you through some of the areas I've spoken about in this wedding blog. The music throughout this short video is recorded live by me I hope this shows you that Ashridge Great Barn is so much more than a typical wedding venue and is a perfect fit for a rustic, festival themed boho wedding. The song is Jose Gonzalez' version of Heartbeats.
I'm looking forward to getting some more real wedding footage the next time I'm there.
Ok, you got me. I'm really only going back for the cake. But playing a couple's favourite song during the wedding ceremony is an extra bonus.