Every wedding is different, but in the case of Dominic and Paulina, they wanted an affordable summer wedding in Devon that wouldn’t break the bank. Having gone and looked at several wedding venues in Devon, they found a lot to be rather expensive, with estimated costs spiralling well past their budget.
Nor is finding the best venue a case of money alone though. Not every couple wants a very formal wedding with all the trimmings. After all, Dominic and Paulina met through a shared love of music, wild places and travel. Their ideal wedding party would be a summer festival with craft beer and friends camping, rather than a country estate packed with expensive bubbly and bunting.
The Double Locks Inn seemed to fit the bill from first look. At just £300 to hire the marquee for a day, this must be one of the best value wedding venues in Exeter. Budget sums would not be a headache, nor would arranging food. As Dominic explains:
“Some of the prices quoted for wedding venues and hotels were crazy. But more than that, a lot of the luxurious, country house type places to get married just weren’t really our style. I also got the feeling
that with a cheaper wedding venue such as the Double Locks, we had fewer worries over invites. When you look at a venue that charges over £50 per head just for food, you have to count very carefully and think twice about invites. Whereas with a less upmarket venue, you can get the best of what they offer for less than half the price and invite everyone you wanted to, with nobody feeling left out because you couldn’t afford to invite them!”
It made sense on many levels. Not just with budgeting a wedding for less, but with the couple’s style and personal wishes. Dominic is actually a fishing writer, so watery settings were a must. Paulina enjoys camping and getting out into the countryside, so a rustic style wedding, with camping pitches available was even better.
Meeting up for an initial meeting with them was a great chance to scout out the locations. There were several key locations to consider:
Exeter Guildhall:A lovely old building with so much history. The couple took their vows upstairs in the registry office. For non-religious couples who still would like an elegant, traditional setting, this is a fine place to tie the knot.
Exeter Cathedral Green: While the hotels and wedding venues in and around Exeter Cathedral Green can cost a mint, you can still use the backdrop itself for free. Dominic and Paulina first met just yards from here, in AL Farid restaurant, so it seemed a natural photo stop.
Exeter Quay: A variety of great
features here, not least of all the river! The wedding
party had cream tea at Mangos Café, while features such as the Customs House and little wooden bridges were ideal for taking pictures of close friends and family. We were blessed with the weather too!
Another inexpensive way to add some magic to the wedding day was a trip on the Exeter Canal Ferry, which was booked for the occasion.
Double Locks Inn: Situated near the River Exe and right on the banks of the Exeter Canal, talk about a classic place for a summer themed weddings in Devon! Prices might be cheap, but the décor was certainly cheerful and highly personal.
To keep costs down and involve the whole family, Dominic and Paulina went for a rustic look. A ton of garden foliage came free of charge from the parents, while the family assembled dozens of bright pompoms, place holders and wedding favours ordered online (the only major cost is time!).
Flowers were arranged by a family friend, with an emphasis on fresh, bright colours and a simple, rustic look. This didn’t cost an arm and a leg but worked beautifully well.
Jam jars were obtained for free from a local factory to provide rustic vases, while Dominic took the ultimate sacrifice of drinking plenty of beer in the run up, to provide a series of bottles too! Decorated with hessian, Swiss straw and other materials these made lovely but inexpensive wedding decorations.
Being a bit of a fishing fanatic, Dominic also made some special fish-themed table signs to go with the seating plan, including a pike, salmon and carp.
Wedding party, food and entertainment With everything in place the guests arrived to Pimms and lemonade, along with strawberries. It was a beautifully sunny evening and those in suits gratefully got stuck into some cold beer (Dominic had made sure there was a crate of craft IPA in the fridge).
Food was a hog roast, not exactly fussy food, but a good way to feed some 90 guests without a pig of a bill. Then, the obligatory speeches, which went down a storm. Particularly impressive was the way best man Nic Bentley gave part of his in Polish. As an English-Polish affair, this was a great touch.
Another fun part of the job is always capturing the entertainers at weddings, and
this was the case at the locks. Paul Ryder is something of a specialist wedding DJ in Devon, and a bit of a dab hand at events for those who don’t like the standard wedding disco tunes. He mixed plenty for all generations, ranging from jazz and reggae, through to classic rock’n’roll and soul.
The live music was also a special touch for the couple, as it was provided by Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater, two brilliant musicians making a bit of a name for themselves on the folk scene, with recent BBC radio play and a Glastonbury gig to come. Of course, the great thing about being friends with the band is that they can be paid in beer, roast pig and love alone.
A hot, busy and colourful day for any wedding photographer, I left the Double Locks with all the shots I wanted- along with many unexpected surprises.