How to plan your wedding ceremony in Ludlow

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Written byClaire Hunte

If you’re googling gorgeous countryside places for a wedding or civil partnership, look no further than the Ludlow area. Sure, we’re very biased, we live here and love it, but here’s why you should consider it:

  • numerous historic churches dotted around various hamlets and villages
  • accommodations with outdoor settings to suit every taste from formal through to wild, rustic gardens that can also host your wedding party
  • a castle, for those who prefer a medieval backdrop
  • fantastic choice of caterers and other wedding service providers from celebrants through to makeup artists.

Planning a wedding in the new ‘pandemic normal’, means needing to release your inner ‘Bohemian’; basically, the ability simply to go with the flow, as general guidance from the government can alter plans with only a week’s notice. In the government’s most recent update, from 12 April ceremonies are allowed for up to 15 people in covid-19 secure venues that are currently permitted to operate. The number of people you can invite increases to 30 from 17 May.

Ludlow Castle – a perfect wedding destination

The medieval castle in the centre of town is a fantastic spot (as our case study below illustrates) even if you have to downsize your party to fewer than you may have liked. Ample space at the castle simply means more room to let your imagination — and, coincidentally, your guests — roam. You may be able to organise activities that will bring your wedding party together for a fun and memorable day — no matter the weather.  It’s a suitably stunning backdrop for those wedding memories and, importantly, it’s a covid-19 secure venue. If guests are not staying at the venue, there is a range of first-class accommodation available from local pubs and hotels (once they’ve reopened) such as: The Church Inn, The Charlton Arms, The Feathers Hotel at Ludlow, Dinham Hall, The Cliffe, all within easy walking distance.

An historic entrance for the modern bride photo: ludlow castle
An historic entrance for the modern bride photo: ludlow castle

Equally, there are self-catering and B&B places within town to take advantage of eateries and shopping that are close by. The castle also has its own restaurant/café run by top chef, Damien McNamara, for catering. Castle staff will provide a list of suppliers they work with to make planning easier. Things can change rapidly, but the Castle says there is always up-to-the-minute information on the Hitched website.

If you are interested in learning more about the Castle or to book your wedding, do contact Julie-Ann by email to arrange a no-obligation viewing or for advice.

BANQUET STYLE at ludlow castle photo: ludlow castle
BANQUET STYLE at ludlow castle photo: ludlow castle

A low-key, high style celebration at Ludlow Castle

Jess Baker, psychologist and women’s leadership coach, appearing frequently in the media and known for helping women to tackle self-sabotaging thoughts through workshops and seminars, has made her home in Ludlow for over four years now. Like quite a few city transplants, Jess had been a regular visitor for many years, falling in love with the area, before she and her partner, Rod, made the decision to up sticks and make it home.

Although Jess never felt compelled to get married, the couple were approaching their 15th anniversary. With civil partnerships being made available for mixed-sex couples, Jess and Rod wanted to formalise their relationship and thought it a great idea to bring friends and family together to share in their celebration. The idea snowballed from there. Jess said they wanted a rustic, festival style celebration where everyone would feel relaxed.

Celebration is the key word here because the couple were determined it wasn’t to be a wedding in the traditional sense. It would be about their friends and family as much as it was about them. Once they had determined the ‘non-wedding’ theme, they knew the perfect setting for it would be Ludlow Castle. They were able to book their non-wedding with nine months to prepare. Jess managed to use local suppliers for almost everything. The stunning triple tier cake was made by Jess Williams, of Crumbolicious. One of her two dresses was created by local dressmaker, Angela Stone, who also made waistcoats for Rod and his son, Zach, Rod’s Best Man on the day. Kate Bolton, from nearby Damson and Vine who grow their own flowers, created all the floral displays (which were varying is sizes and magnificence) matching her blue and silver colour scheme.

Ludlowcastle wedding fun and games
“It was exactly what we hoped for…”

Both Jess and Rod were keen to minimise waste and were creatively resourceful. They used hay bales as places to lounge rather than the normal chairs and plastic tables which just didn’t fit with the vibe they were seeking. Instead, they came up with the idea to source side tables from The Furniture Scheme, a non-profit in town which up cycles furniture and provides training to young people. They bought the tables and then donated them back after the wedding. They used the generous castle grounds to create a big game area for their 80 guests (pre-pandemic) to relax, mingle and have fun. She found a wonderful local band called HMV while out at the Pheasant at Neenton  — both of which she highly recommends.  Their caterers were CSONS, located just below the castle wall, who Jess laughingly describes as “wonderful and nothing was ever too much trouble!”

Jess unexpectedly found the perfect rose ivory, vintage style, Ian Stuart dress on Ebay that went perfectly with the castle backdrop. She surprised their guests by changing into it just before the ceremony led by a celebrant and their close friend  Lucy, and accompanied by Finn O’Reilly, the other half of Rod’s folk duo, O’Reilly & Vincent, who also wrote a song for them.

It was a perfect day, rain threatened earlier but the sun came out and it was a beautiful afternoon according to Jess. Although, ever the planner, she had a backup plan at the ready. If the weather was disagreeable there were umbrellas, personalised with the wedding theme.

“It was exactly what we hoped for, relaxed with a chill vibe, we displayed the theme, ‘it’s not a wedding’ everywhere to remind guests of just that! We even allowed dogs to come as well,” says Jess. It was the best of Ludlow in many ways and visiting guests stayed in accommodation in and around town. The couple booked out the Charlton Arms the evening before, so everyone had a chance to meet and mingle over light bites and drinks. Perhaps, the celebration then was not only about Rod and Jess, but also to confirm Ludlow as home.

Great wedding spots just a stone’s throw away

Take advantage of Shropshire’s Area of Outstanding Beauty and explore locations a few miles distance from Ludlow to have an intimate wedding or celebration. We highlight two that are in visually stunning settings and off the beaten track: one just over the border is Wilde Lodge in Knighton and the other a few miles outside Ludlow, the Old Rectory in Wheathill.

Best for small and intimate – The Old Rectory, Wheathill, Ludlow

A scant 7 miles outside Ludlow lies The Old Rectory B&B, an idyll on a hillside in Wheathill. This classic Georgian rectory owned by Izzy and Andy Barnard is a superb spot for those couples seeking an intimate, exclusive yet informal setting for their wedding. The house has three luxury bedrooms and bathrooms available for the bridal party and family.

Couples will love the extensive gardens with dramatic trees and sweeping lawns that will add theatre to their event. Emily and Rob celebrated their big day at the Rectory and welcomed the warmth and support from Izzy and Andy which made their wedding “perfect”. Amongst the praise for delivering a super day for the couple, was an amazing carrot cake which provided when they needed it most was warming to the soul.  Both were hoping to return to celebrate their first anniversary.

Lasting memories at The Old Rectory, Wheathill
Lasting memories at The Old Rectory, Wheathill

Izzy and Andy are looking forward to welcoming you too, contact them for more information or to book.

Best for a bohemian wedding in the Marches – Wilde Lodge, Knighton

Wilde Lodge is another romantic setting with bags of character surrounded by hills with a river below it. When Ewan and Jennie decided to hold their wedding at Wilde Lodge, they described the sort of day they wanted to owner, Jemma. They wanted “a relaxed but stylish wedding in the countryside”.  And Jemma came up trumps, providing loads of suggestions and recommendations along with contacts for local suppliers for everything they needed from a bar to portable loos and a yurt.

A romantic setting at Wilde Lodge
A romantic setting at Wilde Lodge

Ewan and Jennie took over the whole house and began their weekend celebration with a family dinner prepared and served by Jemma and her staff. The next morning some the guests joined them for a walk from the Lodge over to the hills on the other side of the river.

The couple said everything was in place when it came time for the ceremony. The food, which was catered by CSONS in Ludlow, “was served in the long barn and was amazing – all local produce, with wonderful slow-cooked lamb as the main course. We had tried all of the courses and canapés at a tasting a few weeks before the event and were really impressed by the quality of the catering.”

“Jemma and her team…fulfilled all our expectations”

The decorations were beautiful local wild flowers and greenery from a local supplier. Ewan and Jennie were impressed by the “stunning location, and Jemma and her team, who fulfilled all of our expectations” and that of all the guests. It also helped that the weather was a glorious sunny day – but it wouldn’t have mattered if the weather had changed because Jemma had contingency plans in place. Nothing was left to chance.

To book your place or discuss wedding arrangements contact Jemma at the Wilde Lodge.

For the ultimate wedding list click here for a list of local suppliers from bunting and bell tents through to glitter balls and fireworks to help make yours a perfect day. This story is part of the #loveludlow campaign, sharing the love for our medieval town, its inhabitants and the independent businesses that help it to thrive.

Ludlow Castle photo gallery


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