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Wedding tips from the experts

The Wedding Coordinators view – Mandy Burton, Wedding & Events Coordinator, Cotswold House Hotel & Spa.
I have been working at the hotel for just over 6 years now, my love of Cotswold House started in 2010 when I first started visiting with my partner, when we decided to get married in 2014, this was the only place for us, and I can truly say our wedding day at Cotswold House was fabulous.

I started my wedding career back in 2001 in Berkshire, and with life’s changes I moved to the Cotswolds in 2010. When I got offered the job of working with Cotswold House in a role I love and a hotel that meant so much to me, I just could not say no. I love meeting couples, from the first meeting to helping plan their special day and then I have the great pleasure of sharing their day. Not many people get to go to a wedding most weekends!

With most couples that I speak too, every one of them want to capture their day for them to remember in years to come, Chipping Campden has so many photographic opportunities, from the hotel itself with its amazing spiral staircase, roaring fires in the winter, to the beautiful gardens overlooking the hills. The gardens are in sections from the croquet lawn for those perfect group shots to the topiary walk for the most beautiful confetti shots. Come rain, shine, or snow there is always somewhere you will get those romantic shots.

Chipping Campden is lucky enough to have the beautiful old market hall, located just outside the hotel, quirky doorways and beautiful Cotswold stone buildings, to stunning evening shots at Broadway tower.

At Cotswold House we are licenced to hold ceremonies, in our stunning regency Fig lounge to the barn style Montrose suite. If you want to marry at church, Chipping Campden offers everything you need, St James C of E church, St Catherine’s Catholic church, and the Baptist Church.

We are blessed to have so many local suppliers and ‘going local’ is best for your pocket. My favourite florist is Sue at The Bay Tree, she has worked with us on so many weddings and she has all the knowledge you will need. There isn’t much she doesn’t know when it comes to floristry.

We also have the lovely Tanli Joy who is a great photographer, she knows Chipping Campden and where to capture those memorable moments. There are some beautiful shops also, so if you forget your hat, we even have a hat shop all hand made by the very clever Louise Pocock. There are also other lovely boutique shops on the High Street for gifts, and those last-minute additions.

I don’t have a favourite wedding as all weddings are so different, and each one is special. I do always have two weddings that stick out in my mind, one was when Andrew Ridgley was a guest, seeing him up dancing was one of my best moments, and he was such a lovely guy. The other was when we had the brides horse join them for photographs in the garden. We are a pet friendly hotel after all! Whether your wedding is intimate, or a big family affair Cotswold House is the perfect venue.

The hotel managers view – Craig Webb, General Manager, Cotswold House Hotel & Spa.
As a hotel general manager of luxury hotels for 17 years and 30 years in the hospitality industry, I came through the ranks in wedding and event venues across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and The Cotswolds. I have been at Cotswold House in Chipping Campden for over 6 years. I couldn’t put an exact number on how many weddings I have been involved in but perhaps 25 weddings a year for 30 years, so I’m guessing at about 750 weddings in total. I have served the famous, the wealthy, the budget conscious and everything in between, it is certainly not the amount spent on the wedding that reflect how well a wedding day goes. In fact, the more moving parts there are usually equates to more stress and more to go wrong.

The smallest wedding, I have served was an intimate wedding for just 2 people – the bride and groom (from the US and Australia), who married with us between lockdowns and broadcast via Zoom to their families back home. Mandy and I were there as witnesses, and it was truly beautiful and memorable for all the right reasons – they were deeply in love. The largest was about 200 guests for an Asian wedding served in a marquee, equally beautiful and full of traditional ceremonies, and incredible food that kept being served for many hours. I was also partly involved in John Terry’s wedding to Toni Poole in Woodstock in 2007. It cost half a million pounds, had the worlds press watching, and within weeks his infidelity was being well documented, although I do believe they are still together, maybe all the glam and the glitz was hiding something!

Money saving tips.
Once the wedding is over you don’t want to be left in debt over one day that has been and gone, so here are a few tips to keep a reign on the spending.

When to get married
It is well known that a wedding on a Saturday in the summer is the most expensive. That time of year has the best chance of sunshine and you’re also competing for venues and accommodation space with other local events, staycations, day trippers and the like. Hotels and wedding venues can often get their prime Saturdays booked up well over a year in advance. But if you are willing to take a Friday or Sunday, or go out of season, then the savings can really stack up. Also, if you utilise a hotels civil ceremony licence you will also save on flowers at another venue, and potentially transport costs from church to venue.

Your guest list
Let’s face it we all want as many people there as possible, but how often do you see your second cousin, and have you even met their latest partner yet? Keep the daytime guests to people who really mean something special to you, spend quality time with them, then invite everyone else to the evening party. This could mean you have a bit more to spend on upgrading the meal or having the honeymoon you really want.

The food and wine
It can be quite tempting to splash out on champagne, fillet of beef, scallops, and the like. But from my experience the more you try to overthink the meal, the less people will eat it. Keep the food simple, and in season, so that it caters for a wider audience. From what you have saved you can then maybe add a cheese course. The same goes with champagne, it is very expensive, and a good traditional-method cava or prosecco is just as good, believe me, nobody knows the difference. Ensure everybody has given their dietary requirements well in advance, so people are not changing their mind as the meal is put in front of them. You don’t want an extra charge for more meals.

Hand crafted table centre pieces are lovely, and there are many ways to utilise colourful bottles with flowers and pretty lights to decorate the tables. Weddings can be quite wasteful so thinking about things that can be upcycled or that will have a use again after the wedding can be much better. Do avoid the metal and plastic confetti on the tables and give a thought to what will happen to everything after it has been used.

So, my overarching tips are to keep it simple, stay true to yourself, your values your traditions and background. Let the professionals do their job and enjoy every moment. All the fancy gizmos and moving parts could mean you keep worrying and forget about spending time with your guests, enjoy the moment, and soak up the day.


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