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Ding dong! Muddy’s Devon wedding guide

Planning a big fat Devon wedding? Then you'll be needing our bang up-to-date guide to the best local venues, dresses and all the trimmings.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about all things matrimony, so if you’re planning your BIG DAY in Devon, grab a glass of fizz, sit back and get ready to say ‘I do, I do, I do! And you won’t forget to pop Muddy’s name on the guest list, will you?

THE PLANNER

First, let me introduce to the wonderfully stylish and organised Jess of Ardour & Bow (above). Jess cut her teeth organising events for Hampton Court and now divides her carefully-curated time between London and Devon, sprinkling her fairy dust over weddings, and leaving beautifully bespoke events in her wake. And she adores a spreadsheet! So, if you just want to hand over the whole thing to someone who you can trust to create your perfect day, stop reading now and call Jess, pronto. She’s brilliant, and really, no need to thank me.

THE VENUE

Let’s kick off with a big-up for the drop-dead gorgeous winner of Best Wedding Venue in the 2021 Muddy Awards – Tunnels Beaches near Ilfracombe in North Devon. Just a leetle bit quirky, this unique venue is accessed via hand-carved tunnels and has its own private beach. No wonder it got a big thumbs up from readers – who wouldn’t want to say ‘I do’ with that view in your wedding pics? You might even get a seal photo-bombing in on proceedings.

And sea views are clearly de rigeur as it wasn’t the only sea breeze blowing across the Muddy Awards wedding finalists – Pier House at Westward Ho! is perched right on a cliff edge with stunning views over Bideford Bay and Lundy.

Pic credit: Kingston Estate

If topiary and ye-olde English romance is more your style, we’re smitten with Kingston Estate, a gorgeous Georgian pile near Totnes, with a mahoosive choice of places to exchange vows, from an 18th century walled garden, to their stunning Marble Hall or a romantic rose garden.

Pic credit: Deer Park Country House

A perennial Muddy fave, a Condé Nast Johansens winner in 2020 and 2021 Deer Park Country House, near Honiton is just so cool and stylish. Here’s an 80-acre exclusive-use venue with a knock-out Georgian house and orangery at its centre, plus an outdoor kitchen, tree house and – stuff the small Covid wedding! – room for over 200 of your favourite people. Everything is totally upmarket and totally unstuffy, and all built around you. What a place to have a partaaaay!

We like this idea. Auld acquaintances won’t dare forget if you welcome in 2022 as the new Mr and Mrs, now will they? Book a New Year’s Eve wedding in the Grade 1 listed medieval hall at Dartington Estate with an all-inclusive package for 70 of your nearest and dearest, with fireworks, twinkly candles, a 15ft Christmas tree in the Great Hall and everything local, from the buffet, the BBQ and sparkling wine, just as you would expect from Dartington’s sustainable ethos. And think of the all the velvety, faux-furry wedding dress options. Soooo festive.

Muddy Award nominations piled in this year for the family-run finalist Brickhouse Vineyard, a bijou venue near Exeter, where you can do the deed in a romantic thatched roundhouse, rustic barn, or outdoors among the vines, festival-styley. We held our Muddy Awards drinks do here in 2019 and it’s rustic but impeccable – you can really make it your own for the day (and their award-winning wine is divine).

Another worthy Muddy finalist is Ash Barton Estate at Braunton – a magical party venue that can entertain up to 200 in a Grade II listed manor dating back to the Domesday Book and although historic, they’re very laidback and can play it how you want it, from formal marquees to laidback yurts.

THE PROPS

Pic credit: The Natural Hire Company/Hannah Wilde Photography

Guest list, tick. Marquee, tick. Furniture and props, erm…? Panic not! Hannah at The Natural Hire Company has put together a totally on-trend rental range of rattan sofas, jute rugs, pouffes and handmade backdrops which she is happy to deliver to your venue, and she will even stick around and help create the set, if you ask nicely.

Hannah’s hands-on husband Radley builds rustic outdoor bars for hire, including this circular bar (above), perfect for a festival wedding. Isn’t it something? The Eden Project were impressed too – they like them so much they’ve hired one for next month’s Eden Sessions.

THE FLOWERS

Pic credit: Holly Bee Flowers

Ooh, gimme! These gorgeous blooms were grown by Holly Bee Flowers at her Dartington garden and design studio. If you love the natural, in-season look and local-grown, she’s your gal.

Pic credit: From the Wild

Truth is we’re blessed with loads of talented florists in Devon but if you want the best of the bunch, take a look at Muddy Awards 2021 finalists: Plymouth’s Hannah Burnett who’s won not once but twice!; Milli Fleur in Tavistock who loves the wild and fresh-picked look; Wood Barn Flower Farm and her Devon and Cornwall-grown flowers and herbs; Flowers of Kingsbridge and the outright winner, Exeter’s From the Wild who loves wild (obvs), luxurious, or whatever vibe you fancy. It’s your day, your call.

THE DRESS

All you need is love, but a knock-out frock doesn’t hurt, does it? Lucky for you, we have Devon’s Best Bridal Store right here – Champagne & Charlotte in Bideford, voted top of the bridal shops by readers in the 2021 Muddy Awards. Charlotte is an exclusive Bideford-based stockist of some very sought-after wedding dress designers, including Enzoani, Eva Lendel (above) plus a new Curve Collection for more luscious ladies.

Pic credit: The Natural Hire Company/Hannah Wilde Photography

Also blazing a trail locally, these fabulous finalists – Plymouth’s Amica Bridal, a previous Muddy Award winner, Brides at Waterfields in Torquay, Frilly Frocks in Barnstaple (above) and Prudence Gowns in Plymouth.

CAKES & FAVOURS

Pic credit: Lulu’s Bakery

Did someone say cake? If you want tall and traditional, Tan at Porsham Cakes is your go-to – she’s a whizz at channelling your personality through her delicious sponges and fillings. If roses and dahlias made from buttercream turn you on – and edible flowers too – check out Laura at Angelchops – her cakes are works of art. We’re seriously impressed by what comes out of the kitchen of this year’s Muddy Award winner, Lulu’s Bakery – showstopper guaranteed!

For favours, head to Nick at Royal William Yard’s Domea Favour. He stops short of calling himself a chocolatier – he’s far too modest – but his handmade chocs and favours are the best.

THE PICS

You’ve only got the one chance at this, so they’ve got to be good. If you want to be sure you’re going to look amazing, pick an award-winner, Muddy Awards to be precise, Amy Chapple Photography, who has a super-relaxed style and works with Nick, her fiancé and videographer.

Others we’d recommend you snap up (sorry) are Hannah Wilde Photography – all hand-held and relaxed – and Muddy finalists Snapdragon Photography, Tavistock-based Lauren Dillon and Daniella Pengelly.

THE TOAST

champagne

Want to say cheers with something local? If Muddy may make so bold *places napkin over forearm* you might want to try the Sparkling Rose 2018 from Swanaford Vineyard. It’s the colour of a Provencal wine and twice as nice.

Or how about a drop of Moonhoney, mead with a twist made in Kingsbridge? For centuries, mead (alcoholic beverage made from honey and water) was traditionally consumed during the 30 days after a wedding, which is where ‘honeymoon’ comes from. (Every day’s a school day.)

And for the designated driver? A non-alcoholic Coastal Juniper tipple from Sea Arch, as tasty as a true gin but without the hangover.

THE RINGS & THINGS

After ‘something old’? Check out Muddy Awards finalist, Melissa (above) from Holts Jewellery in Barnstaple – she sources the most exquisite antique and vintage engagement and wedding rings. Prefer something new? Try another worthy finalist, Kate at Glasswing Jewellery’s ethical handmade rings, hewn from sea glass found on beaches here in Devon. She will also make rings from pieces you’ve beach-combed yourself.  Trés romantic.

THE LOOK (OF LOVE)

Pic credit: The Natural Hire Company/Hannah Wilde Photography

Last but very much, not least, the most important person at every wedding – the bride! Yes, we mean YOU, and just to make sure you look even more gorgeous than usual (yes, I’m flirting) book yourself in with The Retreat Beauty Salon for their I do, I do, I do Bridal Package. It’s two and half hours of prenup nirvana which will leave your visage, nails and lashes looking lush.

If you want your make-up to look as good these two hotties (above), then give MakeUp by Zoe a call. According to Hannah of The Natural Hire Company who organised the photoshoot, her brief for the models’ make up was boho crossed with classic English rose. We think Zoe and hair stylist Katie Boon blew it right out of the park with those smokey eyes and beachy waves. Go get it, girl!

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