Charlie & Mark’s Castle: How we chose our wedding venue.

Hello lovely cwtchers! I am overwhelmed by all the lovely comments on my last post and I hope you all enjoy reading this one too. I promised I would show you pictures of my cats, so here is one to get you started:


The lovely Marvin

More kitty pics to follow I promise!

In my intro I told you the reasoning behind choosing our date, this week I’m going to tell you a little bit about why we chose our venue – Cardiff Castle. Choosing a venue is probably the first (and most important) thing that most couples do, it’s also very personal and the many interesting and different venues that other couples choose blow me away. When I tell people I am getting married in a castle I know they are probably thinking it’s because I want the whole fairy-tale princess thing but for me that’s not it.

I already knew where I wanted to get married long before we got engaged! Neither of us are religious so churches were out, although the services are often very personal and lovely I just knew that (for us) standing there and making promises to a God we don’t believe in would feel empty and a bit hypocritical. Also I know Mark would never go for it! Deciding whether or not to get married in a church is a very personal thing though and everyone has their reasons, it just wasn’t right for us.

One thing I do absolutely love though is old buildings, I love old cottages with exposed brick and rickety beams; I love buildings with character, personality and a story. Living down the road from Castell Coch (Red Castle) and remembering going past it on the motorway as a child and being in awe, this was where I thought I wanted to get married. It is an absolutely stunning building; it does have a bit of that fairy-tale magic about it too I admit. But as we looked into it we realised that it simply wouldn’t be possible, they have a lot of restrictions and we would not have been able to invite half of our families so we had to quickly rule it out. For an intimate ceremony with around 20 guests though it would be beautiful.

Castell Coch - our first wedding venue choice

Castell Coch ©Raymond King

We then decided to look at Cardiff Castle, I’d never actually been there but Mark knew I had my heart set on Castell Coch so he suggested we look at Cardiff Castle as an alternative. I didn’t waste any time booking an appointment! We met with a lovely guy called Luke who showed us around. As soon as we entered the 15th century stone vaulted Undercroft we just looked at each other and grinned, it’s a bit dark and gothic and FULL of atmosphere. It was perfect! We both wanted something a bit unique and for us this was it. There was the option to have the wedding breakfast there as well, which is what I thought we would do (simply because of the cost!) but then Luke said he would show us the Banqueting Hall. From the website pictures I thought it looked a bit grand and not really “us” but again as soon as we walked in we both loved it. It is a little grand but not OTT and it comes with use of the Library and Drawing Room for drinks as well which really clinched it, as well as the grand staircase! I couldn’t help feeling a little smug being shown into the roped off areas while other visitors looked on!

We have been back a few times since, one of those times there was a wedding going on and we saw the Banqueting Hall all laid out and the bride and groom and their guests coming out into the courtyard for pictures and we were so glad we got to see this, it all looked perfect and made us feel so happy about our decision.

Cardiff Castle Wedding Venue - Why we chose to get married in a castle!Mark at Cardiff Castle with a tiny bride in the background!

One great thing about having such a pretty and characteristic venue is that we will save loads on décor! A few candles in the Undercroft is all we need, and the Banqueting Hall is already so ornate there is no need to do anything. There are a few downsides that we had to consider. There is no parking for guests; those driving will unfortunately have to pay City Centre prices. Also the Castle is open to the public until around 5pm, but our wedding is on a weekday during term time so hopefully won’t be too busy and the ceremony is at 3.30pm so we won’t have to share the venue for long. The day that we saw the other wedding the tourists seemed to stand back and admire from a distance anyway, I can live with that!

If I could give any advice to you I would say follow your heart, look into all the pros and cons of your dream venue and if you’re not sure then shop around. There are hundreds of beautiful, unique venues – don’t settle. Whether it’s a church, castle or even a farm or old theater your venue is out there waiting for you to find it!

I would love to hear what venues you have all chosen and why!

Charlie x

32 thoughts on “Charlie & Mark’s Castle: How we chose our wedding venue.

  1. Wow they are both gorgeous venues. Castell Coch actually looks like the My Little Pony Dream Castle! Cardiff Castle is just perfect though. Need to see inside!!

    We’re getting married in an old gentlemans club, all leather club chairs and old books. love it! xx

  2. I love Cardiff Castle, it’s like a little oasis of peace away from the bustle of the city. I can’t wait to see the inside.

    The venue search was one of the hardest parts of our planning but you’re so right, it pays to spend some time and effort checking a few out, even if only to make sure the very first one you saw is perfect (as ours was!)

  3. Great piece Charlie, our dream venue had such great space but accommodation for our guests would have been limited and it ended up being more and more expensive and inflexible So we restarted our venue hunt.
    I think it’s important to try a few different venues as then you realise what is important for you. We realised quite quickly that we wanted a flexible venue with no corkage and where we could provide our own bar. And we wanted remote. We had to compromise of space for eating/dancing but the venue can have all our guests on site for accommodation and is really suitable for the 19 children we have coming!
    Look forward to your next post!

  4. We actually ended up booking the first venue we saw (although we did carry on looking at venues in Cornwall and Cardiff after that to make sure!). We got married in a maritime museum, it was pretty fun! :) I remember looking at Castle Coch but the guest restrictions were too strict for us – it really is pretty tho! :)

  5. Those both look like amazing venues and the first one really reminds me of the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast when the narrator tells the story of the old peddler woman and the rose!

    Really good advice Charlie – picking a venue can be hard but sometimes you get a gut feeling and know when you’ve found the right one! Luckily for us that was after not too many venue visits!

    Look forward to the next one :-) x

  6. I drive past Castell Coch every day and only live a 10 minute drive from there. It is such a beautiful place and every day takes me back to my childhood. It’s such a shame that they only hold small weddings there. It would have been a contender for me too if they didn’t have such restrictions.

  7. Absolutely gorge venue. Love it!!! You’re so right about picking a venue to suit you as a couple. We’re getting married in a pub! But it’s our pub, part of our history. We didn’t look at any other venues as we knew our pub was perfect. We have compromised as downstairs will be open to public but I’ve been up there when other receptions on and you’re still very separate. Plus the pub is overlooking the Thames and has deals on absinthe! Bonus x

  8. Oooo Castell Coch does look pretty gorgeous, nestled in those hills!
    Cardiff Castle is fab too :-)
    LOVE that you both knew instantly it was the venue for you – my other half & I had a similar experience! Our venue was not our first, in fact we had a whole marquee wedding planned, but things with the farm fell through & on our second round of venue searching we found The Gatsby – as soon as we walked inside we were sold, we were grinning like cheshire cats!!

    As for parking, we have similar issues – our restaurant has no parking – but we are just making sure we provide as much information as possible and will give our guests as much help as we possibly can. People won’t mind, they will just be happy to be included on your big day :-)

    Oh and Marvin looks ace!

  9. Arrh Charlie Cardiff Castle looks beautiful. In fact both castles are fairytale worthy! I can’t wait to see the inside.

    Very wise words on the venue hunt misses. Follow your heart and you won’t go wrong. We’ve gone slightly further afield than we wanted but our little hippy haven is perfect for us!!


  10. I am enjoying reading your wedding blog Charlie, and Cardiff Castle looks so magical. You will have the most beautiful wedding.. I love the idea as well that you will not need any ornate dressings in the castle, as the architecture will speak for itself… I cannot wait until September xxx

    • Thanks Helen!

      Another castle bride, yay! What made you choose yours? It’s a fantastic looking building although I’ve never actually been in.

  11. Pingback: Real Wedding: Charlie & Mark's Castle Wedding by Maria Farrelly - Cwtch The Bride

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