A real micro-wedding love story from Coombe Trenchard
Francesca and Ben’s micro-wedding at Coombe Trenchard
A wedding day is both an ending and a beginning. Your wedding day is the culmination of a unique and personal stories that’s led the two of you to your wedding day: it’s also the start of the epic adventure that you are embarking on as a married couple. The ritual of a wedding in a place that’s perfect for the two of you, surrounded by those you want to share you special day with is such a poignant landmark in our lives. And each story is as unique as every couple we meet.
We caught up with Francesca and Ben who chose to get married at exquisite intimate wedding venue, Coombe Trenchard for their intimate wedding. Here’s their story:
How it all began…
The couple met in Manchester, when Ben, who was dining in the restaurant when Francesca walked in. He sent a bottle of wine and his phone number over to Francesca at her table in the restaurant! (Courage from a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc!!). Francesca texted him to say thank you and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ben proposed at the start of the first lockdown, at home, just the two of them. Ben had just put together a video montage of photos/videos of their relationship playing to ‘Only Fools Fall in Love’ when he asked Francesca to marry him!
The date of their wedding was the same for their original wedding plans, but the original event was due to be held in the Cotswolds. As Ben is Polish, they wanted to hold a traditional three-day event across a weekend. They had a downstairs bar at a brewery in Hook Norton (the Cotswolds) booked for the Friday before the wedding. The wedding was going to be in a gorgeous church and then they had a huge marquee, that they had designed the layout/interiors for, booked with a bar area then seating area and dance floor. Their theme was wine, so they had various nods to differing wines (tables named after their favourite wines, wine bottles for candles/flowers, seating plan on wine bottles etc). The food was Italian and rustic which suited them as Italy is one of their favourite places. (Francesca fell in love with it when she lived out there for just under a year when she was 20.) They were then going to use the marquee for the following day and have an indoor games/ chill out day with a hog roast for everyone.
…and wedding re-planning
They actually kept very little from the original plan – the venue changed, the food changed, the size of celebration changed, the wine changed (they went very upmarket seeing as there were so few of them!). The date stayed the same as it meant something to us, being their anniversary too.
Francesca told us,
“The intimacy of a smaller wedding was very special to us. We were only able to have our families and a friend each which meant that we all truly got to spend quality time together and got to know each other in a way that wouldn’t have happened with a larger party. We decided upon a much bigger wedding breakfast (seven incredible courses cooked by Harrie from Boo to a Goose!) and chose wine parings to match each course. This is a luxury that would not have been possible with the numbers we originally had.”
The biggest challenge the couple faced was the venue changing. They decided they still wanted to go ahead but knew their original plan wouldn’t have been possible. They looked at a few venues in London (plan 1 was a church then restaurant was plan 2 and then an ‘all in one’ venue, plan 3), but this all became too challenging with some of the more vulnerable guests. A few days before Boris put the country into the second lockdown they decided to ring around venues in Devon as this is where Ben’s parents live. They came across Coombe Trenchard online and mercifully Sarah had just put together a ‘Petite and Beautiful Weddings’ package which she agreed could go ‘live’ with Francesca and Ben’s wedding! They made the trip to Devon to view five different venues including Coombe Trenchard. But, after visiting, no other venue came close to what they wanted. Having settled on Coombe Trenchard, they had a race against time to register their notice of marriage in their local registry office before lockdown started!
Francesca managed to pick up her dress the day of the second lockdown having had the fittings and adjustments made. Ben also managed to get his suit in time too! Both had ‘virtual’ hen/stag do’s which their friends put so much effort into. They’ve committed to two weekends with said friends once it becomes possible. The next biggest challenge once lockdown two lifted was whether their families lived in areas that could mix under the local lockdown restrictions. Thankfully they did, and they were incredibly lucky to get their wedding ‘in’ before the next wave and Christmas lockdown happened!
Why choose Coombe Trenchard for your intimate wedding?
The couple told us about what they loved about Coombe Trenchard,
“Coombe Trenchard is just utterly beautiful! It is somewhat grand whilst retaining that homely feel, which was particularly important considering our small numbers. The roaring fireplaces, huge Christmas tree and elegant but mismatched glassware/ crockery was just perfect for the ultimate winter wedding. The grounds are stunning as are the outbuildings which Sarah has turned into a bar and dance area. (We couldn’t use those but should we have another event there in warmer months we most certainly shall!) We both loved the how the aisle started from the cloisters upstairs. along the hall and down the entrance stairs, where we had our ceremony: it seemed almost church-like. Our entire wedding party was just blown away! It was more than we could have ever imagined, especially given the circumstances. Importantly, Sarah was so calming, helpful, organised and encouraging which was a true blessing. She had caterers, florists, hair stylists, make-up artists etc all at her fingertips and given the elegance of her home we trusted her tastes implicitly. Both her and Philip made the day what it was and it meant we fell in love with their stunning home even more! “
A real highlight for the couple was getting to spend quality time with both of their families: something they had not been able to do much in the past year due to COVID. They were able to live-stream the whole event and then popped onto a zoom to have a toast with everyone who couldn’t be there in person, post-wedding ceremony, meaning their day was full of love and support! The food and wine were utterly divine and they spent much of the day sat around beautiful, elegantly dressed tables, laughing, telling stories and making speeches – which caused many tears to be shed!
“We would recommend Coombe Trenchard to anyone looking for the “wow” factor for their wedding! The house itself is stunning, from the interiors to the outbuildings, to the impeccable gardens. There is an elegant arts and crafts vibe throughout and the whole place feels very luxurious whilst being comfortable. Sarah and Philip go above and beyond and are incredibly accommodating (almost like your own wedding planners!) which, when organising an event such as your wedding, is exceptionally helpful. “
Finally, any advice?
We asked Francesca and Ben what advice they would offer to a friend planning a small wedding.
‘Really consider what you both actually want! The day is about you as a couple and with a smaller event you get more freedom in a way… plus the budget goes MUCH further! Think about smaller details to really pull the event together. For example, we bought everyone silk face masks to match their wedding attire and made personalised shot glasses – as it’s a Polish tradition for all to have a vodka shot during the meal.”
Thank you so much Francesca and Ben for sharing your wonderful wedding story with us. We wish you every happiness and hope that you are able to enjoy those overdue weekends away with your friends soon!
Petite and Beautiful Wedding Packages at Coombe Trenchard
Combe Trenchard is a well-kept secret that tucked away in a secluded part of West Devon on the edge of the raw beauty and romance of Dartmoor. This show-stopping main house is an Edwardian “Arts & Crafts” country house set in over a hundred acres of well-tended garden, parkland and woodlands. The house was designed with entertaining in mind and so lends itself perfectly to intimate weddings and elopements. In a world where quantity often continues to outweigh quality, it’s refreshing to find the “Arts and Crafts” principles of handcrafting, thoughtful design and a personal approach running so much deeper than the beauty of this exquisite country house. Find out more about Petite and Beautiful Weddings Packages at Coombe Trenchard here.
Special thank you to Venetia Norrington who capture Francesca and Ben's beautiful wedding photography.