There are some venues that really get under your skin; where, from the minute you walk through the door, you know you’ve entered somewhere truly special. As a luxury wedding planner, I’ve had the privilege of working in some of the most breathtaking country houses and stately venues throughout the south of England. While I appreciate the beauty of each one, and am often humbled by the care and attention that’s gone into their restoration, there are a handful that have become firm favourites due to their unique atmosphere and sheer wow-factor.
One such venue is The Copse in Oxfordshire. A stunning home-from-home with the sort of gardens that leave your jaw on the floor, this contemporary country house is tailor made for weekend-long wedding celebrations. With 9 beautiful bedrooms, and the sort of décor that wows without intimidating, this is a house that makes you feel instantly at ease. Complete with cinema room, hot tub and barbecue, you can guarantee your house-guests a good time.
The grounds are beautiful. A pond glimmering with waterlilies, a gorgeous garden, outdoor dining and dancing under stretch tent canopies, The Copse has it all. Offering a fully covered courtyard licensed for ceremonies that will seat 120 guests, you can have your whole day in the splendour of the grounds and gardens, no matter the weather. Say your vows overlooking the pond, have champagne and canapés on the reception deck or among the wildflowers, then move to the acoustic barn for dinner and dancing.
Something else that sets this venue apart is its ability to cater for smaller, intimate weddings and gatherings of up to 25 guests. The light and airy lounge is also licensed for ceremonies, and with two kitchens on site available for your caterers, you can host a warm and convivial celebration dinner in the dining room. This level of flexibility is a really rare find, and you’ll find the same level of warmth and service from the team whether your wedding is small and select, or a party thronged with people.
I spoke with the owner of The Copse – Penny Holley – to find out a little more about the house what it can offer to couples planning their wedding.
Tell me about the history of the house and your relationship with it.
The Copse was our family home. Then in 2009 we started The Copse Weekends. We moved next door as the house and land was way too big and we didn’t need 9 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. But we found plenty of other people did and they came back again and again. Eventually these guests suggested the idea of a wedding licence and so The Copse Wedding Weekends was born. We started in 2016 with our daughter’s wedding and then our son and then friends’ weddings. Suddenly we were fully booked and so it has continued. We have no spaces for 2018 and 2019 weekends are disappearing fast.
We don’t think anyone else offers a similar combination of Home, wedding ceremony space, bride getting ready space, reception deck and acoustic barn for dancing.
What is your favourite space in the house and gardens?
The main sitting room is my favourite as it is open on three sides to gardens and the gardens are my passion. It is oak framed, light and sunny, here you can play music, light a fire, gaze across at the pond and wildlife in the hills beyond. It is totally peaceful. But on a party night it opens to the terrace with barbecue and hot tub and more seating and then back into the breakfast room. So everyone can be together.
It’s also a space for a small indoor wedding ceremony and overlooks the courtyard on the other side, which houses the large ceremonies for up to 120 guests.
It is the heart of the house and the open fire in winter is very special plus the tree at Christmas.
Can you describe the accommodation on offer?
Everyone who visits loves it. There are many gathering spaces for everyone to eat together, and invite others to join them. The house sleeps 18 in 9 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, but equally there is plenty of privacy. Cooking happens in two kitchens and outdoor barbecue, there is a state of the art cinema room, hi speed wi fi everywhere, Sonos music system indoors and on the terraces and courtyard. There is a barn with bar and acres of flower filled gardens and fields - and a short walk to the local pubs.
What do you think makes a wedding at The Copse unique?
None of us has a background in the wedding business and so we started by offering what made sense to us and to our guests. Couples told us they wanted a long weekend and a home from home with total flexibility to choose their own suppliers, so that is what we offer. Here you can stay, celebrate and marry all in one space, surrounded by stunning gardens and views.
We help you if you need it but we don’t interfere.
Do you have any top tips for couples planning their weddings?
Our couples seek us out because they are looking for a home from home. They love the idea of The Copse Wedding Weekends, the accessibility to London and Heathrow for their guests and the chance to spend plenty of time together. They know what they want to achieve and are bursting with their own ideas of how to use the space. They just come to us for ideas and suggestions of local helpers. The only tip we would give - which never seems to be needed - is to relax and enjoy.
We feel very lucky and privileged to be part of their most special occasion. But they make it happen with just the occasional guiding hand from us when asked. Best of all they are starting to come back for special birthdays and anniversaries and really do love The Copse almost as much as we do.
I really do love this venue!
photography credits - Images 1,10,15 and 16 Craig Williams. Images 2,3,11 and 12 by Irene Yap. Image 14 by Joe Short and images 4-9 and 13 Hannah Duffy