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Steve Harris: the choice of wedding venues in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 10:09 07 December 2015

Steve and Angie celebrating their wedding at Talbot Heath

Steve and Angie celebrating their wedding at Talbot Heath

DARREN LOVELL

From castle to beach hut, or barn to ballroom when it comes to finding a romantic venue for your wedding day you'll be spoilt for choice in Dorset. But does it have a signal?

I don’t think anyone who works in my chosen medium doesn’t eventually become a radio anorak. In the early days of my broadcasting career I used to get excited about interviewing famous bands; but nowadays I feel my pulse quicken if someone tells me that, because of meteorological conditions, they were able to hear my show at the Rufus Stone Services. So when Angie and I turn off the A356 at Rampisham Down last spring, I recognise the sensation as my nerd senses start to tingle.

We were on the hunt for a wedding venue: it had be big enough for all our friends and family, be a place we could get married and have the reception in, not charge stupid amounts of money, let us party until late…but first and foremost, it had to be in Dorset.

Which is how we found ourselves in Hooke, a pretty village five miles south east of Beaminster. But as we drop down off the main road, the DAB radio in Angie’s car starts to lose reception. We’d driven all over the county in our little Toyota and it always managed to find the national digital radio networks. But the fact that the signal has dropped out meant we really were in deepest rural Dorset.

As we look around the beautiful venue, I couldn’t stop thinking - if we’re so far from civilisation that we can’t listen to The News Quiz on the radio, what’s going to happen when one of my useless friends falls in the duck pond and we need to call for urgent medical attention? So we pass on the place; just like we pass on the farmhouse overlooking Corfe Castle; the ramshackle artist’s home on the outskirts of Bridport and the manor house near Cerne Abbas. All are lovely, but just not right for us. I’m ashamed to say that, on one particularly desperate night, I even Google ‘Hampshire wedding venues’.

Eventually we found our answer at one of the county’s many wedding fairs. I’d come along because I’d been promised the chance to sample some local ales so I could decide which one might be suitable for our nuptials. But for some reason my wife-to-be, Angie, is deep in conversation with someone from a Bournemouth school. And before I know it, it’s agreed. We are going to be the first couple to get married at Talbot Heath School.

Ignore the fact that Angie works in education, so spending one of the biggest days of her life inside a school is a bit of a busman’s holiday. Ignore the fact that, because of term times, we fix our wedding day for 20th December, thereby adding stress and expense to a month that is already stressful and expensive enough for everyone. And ignore the fact that the chances of the weather being anything approaching decent on the second shortest day of the year is slim. We have our Dorset venue!

We used Dorset suppliers wherever we could. Our caterer was from Dorchester and the photographer hailed from Wimborne, we hired a giant Jenga from a Bere Regis toy library and decorated our wedding favours with ribbon from a Boscombe recycling charity. And I finally managed to decide on a local ale.

The wedding day itself, a year ago this month, was smashing. It was exactly the kind of special celebration we’d imagined, and best of all it was in our beloved home county. 


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