Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies:
The Natural Choice
It’s definitely a happy marriage of ‘something old, something new’ at Browsholme Hall, writes Kate Bowyer, who takes a look at the hall’s beautiful wedding venues
I joined co-owner of Browsholme Hall, Amanda Parker, for a tour around the 16th-century hall’s new romantic garden locations and woodland idylls, which have been created to benefit from the government’s recent extension of marriage licences to outdoor venues.
“Before 2020, outdoor weddings were a beautiful rarity,” says Amanda, demonstrating the genuine enthusiasm with which she clearly loves sharing one of England’s longest-occupied family homes with couples and their guests.
Browsholme’s ancient Tithe Barn, sympathetically converted into a stone-flagged romantic venue by Amanda and husband Robert in 2009, was already top of many a bride’s wish-list. Others fell for the hall’s silk-draped Regency drawing room, or a recent addition, the Cart Shed, an intimate venue for smaller, rustic celebrations.
Then, of course, came Covid. When restrictions began to lift, recounts Amanda: “People started enquiring about outdoor weddings. It made such sense – well-ventilated, room to relax, no intrusive masks. We started hosting more receptions outside and it made us look at Browsholme’s beautiful landscapes in a new light.”
The transformative moment came in July 2021, permitting licensed venues like Browsholme to hold full weddings or civil partnership services in any suitable outdoor location.
Amanda and Robert’s lockdown epiphany has resulted in a veritable bouquet of picturesque outdoor settings, like our first stop, a sheltered Italian parterre, set next to the East Wing of the hall. It’s all too easy to imagine the bridal train casting beautiful shadows down the stone steps, framed by low walls, perfect for informal after-ceremony socialising for up to 80 guests.
“It is a beautiful spot,” agrees Amanda as I allow myself to be led, reluctantly, onwards. “But this is my current favourite – it changes every week!” She leads me to an Edwardian water garden, charmingly twining in informal pockets around a small pond, hosting 60 guests. “It’s that bit more intimate and relaxed, like a secret hideaway,” confirms Amanda. Enclosed by lush rhododendrons and azaleas, a brook babbles musically in the background. It is pure romance in bloom.
In contrast, our third stop is pure breath-taking elegance, the hall’s sweeping front lawn having the added bonus of almost no limit on numbers – the perfect way to banish nightmares of whittling the guest list to 30! The pedimented arch adjoining the entrance lodge, built in 1805 as an eye-catcher, would make the perfect backdrop for my imaginary wedding photographs, as would the manorial hall in the other direction – so many choices!
These new backdrops join the rustic pavilion crafted from the estate’s own 200-year-old oaks, nestled under flower banks in the newly landscaped Lily Pond Garden, and the idyllic Lonesome Pine forest clearing, ideal for that eco-centred, or Tolkien-inspired ceremony.
And if the weather turns, I suspect the ever-practical Amanda and her team have it covered? “Literally!” she nods. “Plan B means we have the wonderful Tithe Barn to move an outside ceremony into at very short notice, or many people take advantage of splitting the day part out and part in. Eyes to the forecast, we usually make the final decision the night before, but I have been known to shepherd everyone inside at the last minute!
“And the other way round – one day, the weather was so amazing, I persuaded an initially hesitant couple outside. With the gardens in full bloom, it took their moment to a new level. They were over the moon, so glad they had done it, and all the guests agreed.
“Being in nature takes a significant occasion to a new level, I think, and that’s definitely what discerning couples are starting to seek out – the natural backdrop, sounds, scents, softness and drama making it even more magical and unique. People seem more relaxed, and of course have fewer Covid limitations on their special day.”
Coming sadly to the end of my ‘borrowed’ time, I can only agree, having already decided my ‘something blue’ should definitely now be ‘something green’.
Browsholme Hall and Tithe Barn
Clitheroe Road, Cow Ark, Clitheroe BB7 3DE