RIVER COTTAGE - THE PERFECT WEDDING VENUE FOR A LUXURIOUS RURAL FEAST


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


You know those places you've just always wanted to visit? That you've read about, and thought about, and imagined how amazing it would be? Those places, large or small, exotic or local, that just capture your imagination, and when you finally do get to go you're almost nervous in case the reality doesn't live up to the weight of your expectation? River Cottage was one of those places for me. I'd watched the TV programmes, read the Sunday supplement columns, bought the cookbooks (I highly recommend Veg Every Day) and fantasised about the cookery courses. So, when the opportunity came to finally visit River Cottage to attend their first ever wedding showcase, I was completely un-cool about it and practically bit their hand off in my eagerness to accept!


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


And the best bit about it was that River Cottage didn't live up to my expectations - it blew them out of the water. Despite dreaming about this mythical, rural foodie mecca, I actually didn't know all that much about what was actually on offer at River Cottage, and what I discovered was so much better than my airy-fairy imaginings. You can visit River Cottage for a number of reasons, including cookery classes and their amazing dining events, but as a wedding venue it is a breathtakingly beautiful, brilliantly run venue staffed by lovely people who will do everything they can to give you the best day possible - including producing seriously delicious food. Not bad, eh?


Photo Credit - Sam Gibson Photography


So, let's start with the practical stuff. River Cottage is a 65 acre working organic farm nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Devon/Dorset border. It's just a 10 minute drive from Axminster Railway Station, and a 10 minute drive in the other direction to the gorgeous seaside town of Lyme Regis. Easily accessible from anywhere in the South West, it's also a really easy (and beautifully scenic) 2h40m direct train journey from London Waterloo.


Photo Credit - Emma Stoner Photo


The fun starts the minute you arrive at River Cottage. 'Rolling hills' isn't just some clichéd turn of phrase - when it comes to this part of Dorset/Devon it's completely accurate, and the River Cottage carpark sits uphill of the rest of the farm. When your guests arrive are ushered into an open sided trailer which is pulled by tractor down the hill to the rest of the farm. As the trailer bumps and winds its way down the lane, the incredible scenery unfolds before your eyes and the resident sheep (we went in spring so baby lambs!) look up to greet you - what a perfect welcome to this genuinely idyllic rural venue


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


The venue itself is focused around a really pretty central courtyard, with three main buildings surrounding it - the original farmhouse with its walled kitchen garden, the cookery school and the beautifully restored threshing barn. The team at River Cottage are incredible accommodating and there's a great flexibility about how you can use the space, with options for everything from intimate weddings of just 10 people to large marquee weddings of up to 200 people.


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


After welcome drinks in the courtyard, you can choose to have your ceremony in the beautiful barn, which sits up to 100 guests, or if the weather is on your side, you can have a gorgeous outdoor ceremony or blessing in the walled kitchen garden, with guests sipping champagne and sitting on benches and hay bales dotted around the organic vegetable beds while you say your vows under a rustic, flower adorned arch. For small ceremonies, you can also use the old farmhouse, which is particularly suited to cosy, intimate winter weddings.


Photo Credit - Emma Stoner Photo


After your ceremony, you can enjoy drinks and canapés with your guests. The kitchen garden and central courtyard are both perfect for this, but the beauty of this venue is that with exclusive hire your guests are free to wander wherever they like, so they can go and pay the resident pigs and sheep a little visit, play garden games on the lawns or just enjoy the incredible views. For winter weddings, or rainy days, the farmhouse is a perfect space for post-ceremony drinks.


Photo Credit - Sam Gibson Photography


Then it's time for dinner (I'm going to talk more about the food in a minute, don't you worry!). The barn can be transformed into a lovely dining space which seats up to 70 guests. In the summer months a small marquee can also be added to the barn's outdoor decking area to seat an additional 30 guests. After dinner, while the barn is transformed for dancing, your guests can step outside to discover the amazing yurt, where they can have tea, coffee and petit fours round the fire - so brilliantly atmospheric!


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Then it's back into the barn to party the night away - it holds 120 for dancing and with late licenses available you can go on into the wee small hours. And why not soak up some of the booze with late-night wood-fired pizzas from the outdoor pizza oven?


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


For large weddings of over 100 daytime guests, a marquee can be set up in the grounds with gorgeous views of the Axe Valley. Meanwhile, very small weddings (10-20 guests) can hire the 16th century farmhouse on a non-exclusive basis and have a beautifully stylish ceremony and celebration in its gorgeously intimate rooms. (Top tip - the farmhouse can also be used as a crèche for children attending larger weddings, so parents can relax and let their hair down!).



Ok, so the food! I was lucky enough to sample some canapés when I visited and oh my they were INCREDIBLE! We're talking home cured saucisson, plump and juicy tempura prawns, seriously punchy beetroot and horseradish paté on homemade crackers, hearty Scotch eggs made with farm fresh eggs and homemade sausage meat, and bite sized portions of THE BEST Welsh rarebit I have ever tasted! Hungry yet? Seriously, it was embarrassing how many times I just happened to swing by the canapés table, but the food was out of this world.


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Of course, on your wedding day it won't just be canapés, and the chefs at River Cottage will work with you to create the menu of your foodie dreams. Using seasonal, locally and often farm grown and reared produce, they'll put together a bespoke feast that will blow your mind. There are no set menus, but check out the incredible sample menus below just to really get you drooling! You can also have a signature River Cottage wedding cake adorned with truffles, fruit and edible flowers picked from the garden.



SPRING/SUMMER SAMPLE MENU

Canapés

Courgette, spring onion & carrot bhaji Home dried tomatoes, basil oil, Exmoor blue cheese Beetroot tartare, celery leaf, fresh horseradish Spinach pancake, homemade black pudding, oregano mayonnaise

Homemade bread and butter

Starter

Organic pancetta, steamed asparagus, wild garlic butter, toasted brioche

Main Course

Smoked pollock, bubble and squeak, wilted spring greens, poached free-range egg, green herb oil

Pudding

Almond meringue, rum soaked strawberries, red berry fool

Coffee Petits fours

Chocolate chip cookies

Beetroot marshmallows



AUTUMN/WINTER SAMPLE MENU


Canapés

Venison scotch egg Seared chicken liver, toasted brioche, piccalilli Rosemary crumpets, red onion marmalade, local brie Brisket terrine, parsley biscuit, cracked pepper mayonnaise

Homemade bread and butter

Starter

Mussel and clam chowder, tarragon, lightly poached egg, soda bread

Main Course

Seared fillet steak with an ox kidney pudding, potato & parsley croquettes, almond & rosemary roast carrots, herb gravy

Pudding

Lemon curd crème brûlée with hazelnut flapjacks

Coffee Petits fours

Boozy marzipan balls

Chocolate macaroons



VEGETARIAN SAMPLE MENU


Canapés

Minted broad bean hummus, fresh goat’s cheese, flatbreads Garden crudités, aioli Slow-cooked courgettes, grilled sourdough Summer garden soup

Homemade bread and butter

Starter

Vegetable tempura with chilli dipping sauce

Main Course

Roast heirloom tomato, swiss chard, puy lentils and ewe’s milk cheese, rocket & walnut pesto, new potatoes, nettles and parsley

Pudding

Strawberry semifreddo, minted strawberries, vanilla shortbread

Coffee Petits fours

Cider brandy chocolate truffles

Mixed nut praline




Drinks are just as important to the River Cottage team and they can help you to find the perfect wine pairings for your meal. The focus on local ingredients extends to drinks too, and they have a delicious menu full of local wines, beers, spirits and ciders, as well as some delicious organic, biodynamic wines from further afield. For an extra treat, you can also choose from their gorgeous range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails made with ingredients picked from the farm, like the beautifully refreshing elderflower and cucumber gin fizz or the very tempting spiced pear dark and stormy.


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


I could go on all day about River Cottage, but suffice to say it's the perfect wedding venue for anyone looking for a relaxed, stylish countryside vibe. The setting is absolutely beautiful, with gorgeous views of picture perfect English countryside. The River Cottage team are lovely and super professional, and the flexibility of the venue is a real bonus - they will go out of their way to create a bespoke wedding day that is perfect for you and your guests. Everyone involved is so genuinely friendly - when I cheekily decided to have a little nosy in the kitchens, I was welcomed in by the busy chefs for a chat and an impromptu tour! And, of course, the food is bloody brilliant. This is rustic, laidback luxury at its very best - a gorgeous venue where you can relax, have fun and feel completely spoiled.


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


River Cottage is ideal for Spring/Summer weddings (I visited in Spring and getting to see one day old baby lambs was a huge highlight and something your guests will absolutely love!) but is also wonderfully cosy and atmospheric for Autumn/Winter weddings. They offer a brilliantly priced Winter Special package, details of which you can find here.



For more details on holding your wedding at River Cottage, check out their website or contact Megan, the lovely in-house wedding coordinator, directly by phone - 01297 630322 - or email - weddings@rivercottage.net


All photos provided by River Cottage.


FOLLOW THE WEDDING A-LIST ON BLOGLOVIN!



Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography



Photo Credit - Emma Stoner Photo




Photo Credit - Sam Gibson Photography


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Sam Gibson Photography


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography



Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Russel Talbot Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Harrera Images


Photo Credit - Harrera Images





Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography



Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Amber Marie Photography


Photo Credit - Amber Marie Photography


Photo Credit - Amber Marie Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography







Photo Credit - Larissa Joice Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Helen Lisk Photography


Photo Credit - Emma Stoner Photo

Website and Brand design by Studio Spence