Frequently Asked Questions

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This page aims to answer most of the most common questions, whether you are simply looking for venues, or have booked your wedding at Owlpen already.  If you can't find what you are looking for, please send us an email.

 

What is ‘whole weekend’ use?

We believe that a wedding should last more than just a day, which is why we offer you the estate for three days in total.  Usually we hold weddings on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but whatever day of the week, the timeline works like this:

Day 1: Kick-off.  Arrive from 12pm (or earlier if you need) and begin to decorate.  Maybe have a rehearsal.  Guests start arriving after lunch, and checking into their accommodation.  We like to have a planning meeting at 2pm to make sure everyone is happy with arrangements.  If you would like to hold an informal meal in the Cyder Barn that evening, we can arrange this for you (more info below). Alternatively, you might like to throw a barbecue for all of your closest friends and family in a holiday cottage.  Some of them have large and beautiful gardens, which make them perfect for this.  If you would rather make things easier, head to the pub in Uley, just half a mile away, or enjoy a quiet night in before the big day. 

Day 2: The BIG Day!  We follow your lead on this, so let us know how you would like to schedule things, and we’ll offer advice where we think it might be helpful, and do everything we can to make your dreams a reality.  NB see the end of this page for a draft 'schedule' with possible timings for your day...

Day 3: The Aftermath…  Guests begin to check out of the holiday cottages from 10am, and where possible we try to arrange late check-out for those who would rather stay on a while longer (for a maximum of five cottages.  The fees are £50 per cottage to stay till mid-day, or 50% of the nightly cottage fee to stay for an extra night.

On that note, the cottages are all available to rent on that night as well, if you’d rather delay your return to reality just a bit more.  If not, you are welcome to stay on the estate until 5pm if you like, perhaps to have a relaxed brunch in a garden or at the venue itself, take a dip in our spring-fed swimming lake, or just to hang out and relive the moments of the day.  Let us know what you’d like to do, and we shall try and make it work!  

Is the venue easy to find?

Owlpen is tucked away in a valley beyond the village of Uley, so it can be hard to find if you don’t have directions.  However all satnav (GPS) systems will take you straight to the estate if you type in our post code, which is GL11 5BZ.  If you do not, the best way to reach us is to head to Uley and turn off the main street at the Old Crown Pub, on the village green. The estate is just half a mile further on, and it is clearly sign-posted.  If you would like printed directions, we would be happy to send them to you or your guests by email, so just let us know. 

Is your venue licensed to carry out civil ceremonies?

Yes.  The Cyder Barn is licensed for 100 people, the Pole Barn is licensed for 150, and the Great Hall of the manor house is licensed for up to 50 people.  Civil Ceremonies in the Cyder Barn, and in the manor gardens, are free when booked as part of one of our wedding packages above.

Please note: Gloucestershire County Council charges a fee for registrars to visit all licensed venues.  You can find more information here: http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/article/106549/Plan-a-Ceremony---Fees

Can we have a ceremony outside?

We are able to conduct official ceremonies outdoors, in certain areas of the gardens.  The final decision on this rests with the registrar on the day: usually it is dictated by weather.  We recommend hiring chairs for outdoor ceremonies: more below.

We also regularly hold unofficial ceremonies in a number of locations, either in the gardens or in a woodland glade near to the Cyder Barn.  These can take the form of a blessing, performed by an official celebrant, or even an informal exchange of vows conducted by a friend or family member. 

Is there a church on the estate?

The Church of the Holy Cross is a stone's throw from the manor house, and is used regularly for weddings in conjunction with the venue itself.  The church seats 120 comfortably.  It's a great way to add a religious element to your wedding day, although you need to establish a 'qualifying connection' to the church in order to be married there.  This usually involves going to church at least one each month for six months, before your banns can be read.  You can find more information about this here: www.yourchurchwedding.org/article/finding-a-church

How do I contact the church about a ceremony?

Please get in touch with Clare White at this email address: ewelmeparishoffice@gmail.com.  For more information about the history of the church, please follow this link: www.owlpen.com/estate/holy-cross-church

Is it possible to have an official ceremony the day before, and then an unofficial one on the day itself?

Absolutely, yes.  This is a popular way of doing it if you want more flexibility with your main ceremony.  We can do a little official marriage in the Great Hall of the manor house.

Venue

What are the dimensions of your barns?

The pole barn is 10m x 15m.  The barn seats 120 people, on round tables or long tables.  Just tell us which configuration you would like on your seating plan, and we shall arrange it for you.  The barn is used primarily for dining, but is also for civil ceremonies for up to 150 people, on rare occasions.  Sadly the pole barn is not available for dancing at weddings; please enquire at the office for more info.

The Cyder Barn measures 6m x 12m.  The gallery above the barn ,which is great for hanging flowers, is 4m long.  The ceiling height at the apex is 7 metres in both barns, and about 3 metres at the sides.  

What happens in each of the barns on a wedding day?

The Cyder Barn is primarily used as a ceremony room during the day (licensed for 100), and as a bar and dance-floor during the evening party.  It is the perfect size for this as it creates a great atmosphere, although we advise booking a DJ instead of a band, as they are more compact and generally get people dancing more!  The Pole Barn is mainly used as a dining space, although it is also licensed for civil ceremonies for 150 people.  In the evening it is a calm place to sit and chat while the bar and dancing take place in the Cyder Barn.  Sadly we do not offer the pole barn as a location for dancing.

What is included in the venue hire fees?

We include the following in our venue hire fees: access to the gardens and grounds; use of the barns at no additional charge; event coordination; cutlery & crockery; wine glasses; choice of round or long tables; festoon lights; bunting outside; parking; use of the fire pits including logs; unlimited camping.  There are a few exclusions when outside caterers are used: please speak to a member of the team for details.

What time can we start decorating?

You are welcome to arrive from 12pm the day before your wedding, and stay inside the barns until 5pm that afternoon, so that you have all day to get everything ready.  If you’d like to get here early for any reason, just let us know and we’ll do our best to help.

Can we use the venue the night before?

Yes you can.  If you would like a drinks party in the Cyder Barn, or a sit-down meal, we can arrange it for you.  We cannot do it in the Pole Barn, as it would be laid up, and ready for the Big Day, in advance. 

If you just want a drinks party, we charge £50 per hour and the bar is open. If you'd prefer to bring in your own drinks instead of using the bar, the service charge is £5 per head.  N.B. This only works if you're bringing in your own drinks the next day as well.  If you do not plan to do so, the bar would be open.

There is no hourly fee if you use Well Seasoned Caterers for the event.  If you would like food, caterers must be used.

What are the opening hours on a wedding day?

The office opens from 9am, and we are on hand to help with any pre-wedding prep that is required.  In the evening, we have a license until 11am on weekdays, and 12am on Saturdays.  If you would like to extend your party a little later, we can apply to the council to do this.  The fee is £250 to extend to midnight on a weekday, or 1am on a Saturday.  Please note that these extensions are in short supply, and they are offered on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you would like one, please let us know by email as far in advance as possible.

Are we able to use the barns the day afterwards?

You can use the venue on the Thursday or Sunday if you are having a meal provided by our caterers, but we do not allow access to the space without staff supervision.  The same applies to the gardens of the manor house, but it does not apply to the area around the lake, or holiday cottage gardens.

What time do we need to take our decorations down by the day after the wedding?

The day after the wedding we ask that decorations are taken down by 12pm, but if you need to extend this time, just speak to one of the team.

What are the guidelines for decorations?

We try to be as flexible as possible, but we do ask that guests do not leave marks (including pin holes!), or place candles or other naked flames on tables without a glass jar or sconce beneath it.  If you would like to attach anything to the historic fabric of the building, please ask us first. 

Do you have a hoop which hangs from the ceiling for floral arrangements?

We do not, but florists often bring them in for our weddings as they work so well at Owlpen.  We have a pulley and rope which the hoop can hang from. Abbey Meadow Flowers most regularly provide hoops, but other florists will of course do it as well.  The standard diameter of the hoops is usually 1 metre, but you can go up to 1.2m.

Do you have an easel we can use?

Yes we have one which usually sits inside, by the entrance. It can take a sign measuring about one metre square, maximum.

Do you have a long carpet runner for the Cyder Barn, to use for the aisle?

Not yet but we are looking into it, so watch this space!

Do you have a music system we can use for our ceremony?

We have a PA system in the both barns which is great for ceremonies, speeches and background music during a meal. However, it is not suitable for dancing and discos.  We can advise on local companies which provide good sound systems (best to contact Chinnick Theatre Services in Stroud in the first instance), and they can install them as well. If you use a band or DJ, they will bring their own sound system.

Do you have a music system for outdoor ceremonies?

Yes we have a large (80 watt) portable Bluetooth speaker.  We also have two 13 amp sockets outside, for ceremonies and the reception.  The sockets may only be used for sound equipment.

Do you have a covered space for musicians to play outside during the reception?

We do not, although many choose to sit beneath the the large yew tree which was planted in 1616.  Sometimes musicians bring their own gazebo.  It is important to clarify whether they are bringing their own cover before the big day, to avoid confusion about locations on the day itself!

Can we have a band playing in the evening?

Yes of course you can, although often people find that bands can be a bit hit-or-miss and they cost a lot of money.  Plus they require enormous amounts of space, and Owlpen is not the largest venue.  We can accommodate a band in the Cyder Barn as long as they can occupy a space no larger than 5x2.5m.  We find that at the best parties they have a DJ in the evening (see our approved suppliers page for some good recommendations) and a band in the afternoon, in the gardens during the drinks reception. This lifts the mood in the afternoon, and there are some great local musicians around. We find the most popular options are an acoustic guitarist, bluegrass band, swing band or string quartet.  It depends on what you are after! Often they can play during the wedding breakfast as well, but makes for a great atmosphere.  As above, if you do choose a band, think about limiting it to a three-piece outfit so they don't take up too much space.

For something a bit different, Silent Discos are now becoming really popular.  There are loads of options available, but you could try https://www.silentnoizeevents.com/ 

Can the suppliers come and see the venue before the date?

No problem at all, just let us know and we’ll arrange a time.  NB: this is better arranged between November and March when we are less busy, so at busier times of year our availability can be very limited.

Can we come and visit for a pre-wedding planning session?

Yes, we actively encourage you to come for a meeting before the big day. Again, between November and March is best and in high season, availability is very limited as we try to focus on the events coming up.  If you would like to come back after your planning meeting we may not be able to meet you formally, but you may want to walk around the gardens and grounds, measure up in the barn etc, which you can do without a team member present.

Can we bring our dog to the ceremony?

We are dog-friendly at Owlpen, so we encourage guests to bring theirs.  We ask that they are looked after by a designated carer, as you won’t have time to watch out for your furry friend on the big day.  When they are outside, please keep them on a lead where appropriate.

Can we hire a wedding car to take us to the venue?

Yes!  We have some great local options on our approved suppliers page.  As the church is on the estate, and we have a license for civil ceremonies, it doesn't happen too often however.  Bear in mind that cars with very low clearance are often not best suited to this country estate so best to steer clear or the brand new Ferrari option...!

How many guests can Owlpen Manor accommodate?

The manor gardens marquee location can seat 200 people.  The pole barn seats 120.  A total of 150 guests can attend an evening party in the barns after the meal has finished.

What are the possible options in case of bad weather?

In case of bad weather the Cyder Barn is quickly cleared of chairs to become a space for a wedding reception.  It takes ten minutes to do this, and in that time guests gather in the pole barn next to it.

Would candles have to be battery LED’s or do you allow open flames but enclosed in lanterns/jars?

We ask that all open flames have glass jars or sconces beneath them to protect our surfaces. 

Do you allow professional firework displays?

Sadly we do not allow fireworks at Owlpen: we find that is is stressful for pets, our livestock and surrounding wildlife, not to mention our neighbours!

Do you allow confetti?

We only allow organic material such as rose petals or lavender.  Confetti marked as biodegradable is sadly not allowed (it takes weeks to break down) and nor are confetti cannons or confetti dispensers containing micro-plastics.

Booking

When can I come and meet you?

We tend to hold meetings on weekdays (except Wednesdays), 9am to 4pm.  At weekends we are often busy with events, sadly.

What do I need to do to secure my booking?

We ask for a deposit of £1000, refundable after the event has taken place.  You also need to sign our contract, and fill out the first page of our event checklist, so that we know how to contact you.  After that you can rest easy, and we'll schedule a meeting with you to discuss your plans, and make sure we are prepared for everything as we move forwards.

Do I need wedding insurance?

Historically we have always advised our clients to take out wedding insurance, and we now oblige everyone to take out wedding insurance under the terms of our contract.  it is more for your peace of mind than for anything else, but it also includes private liability insurance, which you need if you are bringing in your own cake or evening food.  It costs around £60, and you can find good insurance cover here: https://www.events-insurance.co.uk/.  Other competitive policies are available.

 

Facilities

Do you have disabled access?

As Owlpen is set in a valley surrounded by hills, flat ground is at a premium.  The gardens are terraced, with steep steps leading to each one.  There is no wheelchair access in the formal gardens right in front of the manor house, but there is on the bottom lawn, beneath the round steps.  There is a disabled (DDA) toilet in the barns, but not in the gardens.  For more information, please see our accessibility statement here: www.owlpen.com/accessibility

Is there a dressing room that the we can use prior to the ceremony?

Yes the make-up room is in the Cyder Barn itself, and is adjacent to the marital suite (known as The Apple Loft). It has its own entrance and parking, so suppliers can arrive early and start work before the venue opens officially.  Alternatively you can use one of our holiday cottages, all of which have a different style and character.

Do you have a room where you are able to store wedding presents?

Yes please speak to us directly about the best plan which suits you. 

How would car parking work on the day?

There is plenty of parking on the estate.  It covers a square mile of land so no shortage of places!

Do you have landing permission should we want a helicopter to whisk us away?

Yes we do.  Please ask at the estate office for details.

Can our photographer, or guest, fly a drone when they are here. 

Yes, as long as you let us know in advance, and they provide us with a copy of their CAA licence.

Do you have an estate map which we can give to our guests, to find their way round the estate?

Yes, please click on the following links to find an OS map and a drawing showing the lie of the land.

 

Accommodation

Are we able to check in early?

We do our best to let guests check in before 4pm.  Just speak to the team and we can prioritise the cottages that you want first, so that they are ready in good time. 

Are we able to have a late check out?

We do our best to allow late check-outs for a fee of £50, unless other guests are due to arrive that afternoon.  If you would like to stay, you can book the cottage for an extra night at 50% of the standard rate.

Are we obliged to take all of the cottages?

You do not need to take all of the cottages, but we find that almost everyone does.  The Apple Loft, Grist Mill, plus Manor Farm and Over Court, do need to be taken as they are so close to the venue.  We ask that you inform us within 90 days of your wedding if you do not require any of the others, so that they can be made available to other guests.

What do you provide in the cottages?

The holiday cottages are all self-catering. We provide a tea tray on arrival, with a pint of milk, tea and coffee, and biscuits.  The kitchens are stocked with condiments including cooking oil and herbs.  They also have washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, cloths and toilet roll.  The bathrooms have soap, shampoo, and shower gel.  All bed linen and towels are provided.

If you need travel cots for children, please let us know on the event checklist, so that we can plan accordingly. We provide a bottom sheet for them, but not duvets or pillows, as children have so many different requirements and so parents usually bring their own.  

Do the cottages have EV charging points?

Sadly none of the cottage have charging points, and we do not currently allow vehicles to be charged from the 13 amp sockets in the houses.  Really sorry!

Are we able to have a BBQ in one of the cottages the night before the wedding?

Yes we think it’s a fun way of greeting your guests and making the most of the estate, so we actively encourage it.  We can provide BBQs, but please bring charcoal etc.  Our caterers can provide you with salads or locally sourced cold meats if you like, to get you started.

How many people in total do the cottages accommodate?

The boutique holiday cottages here at Owlpen sleep 40 people in total, in nine holiday cottages.  We can also arrange glamping for another 40 people in our water meadows, not far from the Cyder Barn.

Do the cottages have welcome packs?

Yes, each cottage comes with a folder containing all info about the house, the estate, how to contact other houses, and where to go in the local area.  If you need them in advance just follow this link, and use the password 1706: www.owlpen.com/welcomepack

Can our guests camp?

Guests can camp for free, although we strongly advise that you hire a portaloo for them, so that they have their own privacy.  We recommend Abbey Loos.

Can our guests bring caravans or vans?

Yes they are welcome to do so.  We have a space next to the timber stacks - about 100 metres from Woodwells cottage - where they can park up, as the car park gets very full.  Sadly we do not have an electrical hook-up for caravans or vans.

Is there any other accommodation in the local area?

Yes, we have put together a list of reliable local accommodation providers from self-catering properties, to pubs and hotels. You can find the list by clicking here.

Food and Drink

Do you have a list of preferred caterers?

We do not have our own in-house caterers, but we do have preferred catering partners who do the vast majority of the events that we hold at Owlpen, when the barns are used.  For larger marquee weddings in the manor gardens you can select your own caterers, but most choose our preferred supplier.  You can also opt to use food vans if you prefer a more informal dining experience.

Can we bring our own alcohol?

Yes.  If you would like to do this, we ask for a service charge of £12 per head, which covers all storage, staffing, licensing and glassware.  You can then bring in all of your own drinks until the end of the meal, when the bar opens.  If you would like to bring in all of your own drinks until the end of the night, the fee is £19 per head, in total.  We also offer a range of drinks packages, where we provide all of the alcohol for you, and run the bar at the same time.  Sadly we do not allow guests to bring in their own alcohol free of charge.

Do you have the option of a paid bar?

Yes we are fully licensed, and the bar accepts cash and cards.

What types of drink do you supply in the packages?

Loads!  We also offer beer buckets, to serve during the reception, if your guests would rather not drink wine!  You can find full info about our current drinks package by clicking here.

Do you supply soft drinks with the wine package?

Yes we provide apple juice, orange juice and still water. 

Do you include a cake stand and knife if required?

We include a cake table and knife, but not a cake stand.

Can you supply examples of suggested menus?

Contact our caterers directly and they will be happy to supply sample menus to you. 

Is there a cost if we bring our own cake?

It depends on what you want.  Usually there would be a fee of £2.50 which covers staffing and tableware for the cake, unless you plan to just provide napkins or paper/ bamboo plates and do all of that yourselves (up to you!).  If you do bring in your own cake, or any other food that you want the caterers to serve, you must have wedding insurance, or public liability insurance.  You must also provide a printed list of ingredients and possible allergens, for our records, and in case anyone asks on the day.  The caterers cannot accept responsibility for any illness that happens as a result of eating food which has been supplied by you and your guests.

Regarding the layout, what options are there for tables?

We supply long trestle tables and round tables, according to your preference. Just let us know and we can put together a table plan for you.    

How many people can fit on the tables?

Our round tables are six feet in diameter.  They are designed for 8-12 people per table, but ten is the best number.  Twelve is a squeeze!  The round tables do need linen.  Our trestle tables are six feet long, and seat three on each side.  They are wooden tables which are designed to be exposed, although you can of course put table cloths on them: this has an additional fee.  Please enquire at the office for specific info.

How much does the table linen cost?

Napkins cost £1 each.  Round table cloths cost £12 and trestle table cloths cost £6.50: we don't charge you for these until your table plans are finalised, so that the fees are accurate.

Are there any other costs we haven't thought of?

We have a 'no hidden costs' policy here at Owlpen, so we won't pass on stealthy fees to do things like light the fire pit or turn on the floodlights.  However there are a few areas where we feel that it is fair to ask for an additional fee, if the work involved requires extra staff.  Table linen and napkins are charged extra.  For outside ceremonies we charge a fee of £3 per chair: we set them up beforehand according to your preferred configuration, and make sure they are put away again afterwards.  There are costs if you would like to have a drinks party in the barns the day before, or after, the main event.  This is charged at £50 per hour.  If you would like us to set up a party for you in the grounds, such as the lake or a holiday cottage, the same fee applies for the setting-up.  The event itself would not need to be staffed, as you are outside the licensed premises and you can look after yourselves.  However, we can provide staff if you would like us to do so.

Do I need to leave a tip?

None of our fees include a service charge, either for catering or housekeeping.  We do not oblige our wedding parties to leave tips, but it is customary to do so: often the parents of the bride/groom take charge of this, but not always.  Any tips that are left go straight to the front of house and kitchen staff, or house-keeping staff where appropriate, and are divided up evenly.  They are most gratefully received by our hard-working team! 

Schedule

At Owlpen we feel strongly that you should be able to do things your way. However we can advise about timings if you would like advice on it, given the extensive experience that we have of hosting weddings here.  To outline our thoughts we have put together timings based on a ceremony that starts at 2pm, but ceremonies can start any time from 11am to 4pm.

1.00: Guest arrival

2.00: ceremony

2.30: Drinks reception, ideally in the gardens

4.00: Wedding breakfast

6.00: Speeches (NB we feel that speeches work best after the main course and before dessert, but it is up to you!)

7.00: Cake!

7.15 Dancing

9.00: Evening food

Midnight: carriages

Bear in mind that there are lots of variables here.  Church ceremonies take longer, so allow an hour for these. If you are planning to have lots of formal photographs, and canapes in the gardens, then allow more time for your reception.  Also the speeches can last from ten minutes to 90 minutes, which affects the schedule afterwards.  

We hope that this information helps.  If you have any further questions, please ask one of the team.