When we were planning our wedding for Autumn 2014, neither me or my husband wanted a ‘traditional’ wedding. After some googling, we came across the Treehouse Restaurant at Alnwick Gardens and loved the idea. We arranged to visit before booking, spoke to Wendy who organises events there, and agreed a date before leaving. It was the only venue we looked at, we loved it. It’s also not as expensive as you’d think!
The day we visited was an awful day- raining (normal for the north), windy, dark. But it was still beautiful. It might be a treehouse, but it’s fully accessible for wheelchairs and push chairs. There’s a long ramp up to a covered viewing point and then a further walkway to the Potting Shed (bar area) and an additional space which we used as a place for our guest book and put some family photos on the screens in there. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are some rope bridges you can cross (good photo opportunity).
The Treehouse is magical. We’ve been there four times in total, including our wedding day. There’s a big, log fire in the centre, and everything is made out of wood- grand wooden chairs, tables, branches decorated with fairy lights. It’s not square- it has hidden nooks and crannies. Photos don’t do it justice. Coincidentally, BBC 3’s Don’t Tell The Bride episode featuring the Treehouse aired soon after we booked it and we both commented that the camera couldn’t pick up all of its qualities.
Organisation wise, it was a walk in the park. We live 5 hours from Alnwick, but Wendy and her team arranged everything for us- we told them what we wanted and what we’d provide and she sorted it. She also had some great advice which we followed, for example ‘don’t overdress the Treehouse or tables, it’s so pretty that simple makes everything pop more’- She was right. Last minute issues or requests, she sorted it. A man had a medical emergency when we were visiting once, she was cool as a cucumber.
Once we’d booked we were offered a complimentary tasting of the suggested wedding menu. We were able to choose 3 dishes for each course to provide our guests with options. We opted for: chicken liver pate; cream of tarragon mushrooms on toast, warm pigeon salad for starters. For mains: supreme of chicken; roasted lamb or cheese, red onion and chive filo parcel, and for dessert: lemon tart; Bailey’s Cheesecake or Chocolate Brownie. There were also options for the Children’s menu. The food is incredible. There were three options for hire: all day, from midday-midnight and from 5pm-midnight. We opted for the latter and it was the perfect amount of time. You pay for the venue hire (discounts were offered for certain months/days) and then there’s a minimum spend. After many calculations, we worked out that for 70 guests it was cheaper to order alcohol from the Treehouse rather than pay a corkage fee and supply our own.
We arranged a meeting with Wendy the day before to confirm arrangements for the day and drop off the table plan, wedding favours, photos, guest book etc. The wedding ceremony itself takes place with everyone standing facing the raised area with lanterns on the floor making the ‘aisle’. Chairs could be provided for elderly or disabled guests. Once the ceremony was over, we had drinks out on the walkway and in the Potting Shed and Wendy’s team set up the tables, chairs and places according to our plan. My husband came up with a table map which was complicated to set up (involving jam jars, battery powered tea-lights and lemon squash!) and they followed his instructions perfectly. We hired a pianist to play and sing (Ashley Humble) during the meal and made an iPod playlist for afterwards which we gave to Wendy. There is an area by the fire which can serve as a dance floor, but it isn’t large. There was a microphone available for the speeches.
Wendy recommended the Hogs Head for accommodation since all of our guests needed rooms. We also hired a coach (£200) to transport guests to and from the Treehouse- I’d recommend this as it made life much easier rather than trying to persuade 70 southerners that taxis aren’t common in the North. Getting a photographer who has worked there before is a must- like I said, photographs don’t do it complete justice. Andrew Davies, our photographer, was great. He listened to what we wanted, he didn’t ‘get in the way’ and he was prompt in sending us the photos.
We had lots of people say that our wedding venue was the best they’d seen and even our hard to impress family and friends were suitably stunned by the location and the food. I’m biased, but it was the best wedding I’ve been to!
Details based on Autumn 2014 Wedding. Photos used were taken by us or our guests.